There is no need to repeat how big the online dating scam problem is. Ever since the Internet provided the means for people from distant places to interact and communicate, criminals have been taking advantage. Despite the fact that every day people are more computer savvy and educated in online interaction, the numbers of victims to online dating scams continue to grow. International private investigators see no end to the problem, as criminals develop new techniques and new platforms to offer new possibilities: social media, new dating sites, apps, etc. Any online platform is good ground for dating scammers and the rest is just the result of the creativity of the criminals.
But before describing how to avoid being a victim, it is also important to recognize that anyone can be a victim. Online dating scams have been misjudged by lots of people. Those who have not been a victim yet often refer to victims as naïve or dumb. Everyone feels smart enough to tell the difference. But the problem is that online dating scammers are extremely good at manipulating people. These criminals have been called “social engineers”, a term used to describe those who have a method to trick people into breaking normal security procedures. People normally wouldn´t send money to a stranger; however dating scammers are not strangers anymore for the victims. They are friends, they are people with whom the victims are emotionally involved with and that makes them effective.
Now that we have set clear that this can happen to anyone who uses the internet, our private investigation team has put together a list of tips and recommendations to avoid being a victim of love fraud online. Follow these steps and your chances will be reduced to a minimum.
Step 1: Go over your dating profile and social media
Online dating scammers do not pick their targets randomly. Usually they select their prey based on certain factors that indicate they might have better chances to be successful. Some of them are age (50 and more), marital status (preferably widowed or divorced), and definitely from a developed country like the U.S., Canada, the U.K. or Australia. This will indicate to the scammers that their targets are somehow vulnerable and that they have economic means to support them with financial assistance. It is important to check that your dating profile or social media accounts to not reveal too much information about yourself, especially anything that can define you as a potential target. The simple fact is, the more you share online, the more you and your family are at risk for crime.
Step 2: Pay attention to some red flags
There are many things that can hint that there is an increased chance of someone being a scammer, but probably the most clear of all is the place these people come from, or any relation to high risk countries for fraud. Some of the countries that deserve attention are Ghana, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Russia, Romania and the Philippines. These countries have severe problems of online scams, and the sole mention of them should be reason to get a dating background check, just for prevention.
Step 2: Do not share personal information
Most people will advise not to send money. But information is just as important! When meeting someone online, try sharing as little as possible about yourself, at least until you get a professional dating background check investigation by a reputable international investigation company. In the meantime, there are plenty of conversations that you can have without letting the other party know all the details of your life. No one needs to know your address, income, financial information, exact date of birth, etc. Information can be used against you, and once shared, it can’t be taken back.
Step 3: Get proper verification and evidence!
You do not need to hire a private investigator for every person you meet online, but once you recognize that you met someone who really interests you, get a background check and verify that this is someone you can trust. A thorough background check will shed light on whether or not the person you´re interacting with is who he or she claims to be. You may need additional and deeper investigation later on, but it is always good to know that there are tools available to prevent scam.
Don’t be a fooled by people search or public records websites that search databases on the Internet. To be safe and properly verify any individual, you’ll need a trained private investigator to uncover real evidence and be sure the person you’re communicating with is who he or she claims to be.
© 2015 Wymoo International
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