It is important to remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is – particularly as it is very easy on the Internet to claim to be someone you are not. CupidScreen is the solution to prevent you becoming victim of an online dating scam.
Picture this. You have met someone via an online dating site or social networking site and you feel a strong connection with them, in fact this person has every potential of being the ‘one’. Although they are currently in another country, plans have been made for the two of you to be together in the near future. It may have been within a short time, or after a period of months, but at some point this person has asked you for money prior to meeting you face to face. After talking to this person regularly, you trust this person and know they will keep their promise in paying you back (sometimes even with interest) and may even have a contract in writing. Have you found yourself in this situation? Chances are you are dealing with an Internet scammer. NEVER, EVER send money to anyone you have met online unless you are prepared to never see that money again.
If you believe your Date is genuine, ALWAYS request a CupidScreen scam analysis (and ID Check) prior to sending your Date any money. Sending money to an individual on the promise they will pay it back or offer you a form of financial return, must be considered as a business transaction which requires the appropriate due diligence. Spending as little as $79.95 can save you potentially hundreds of thousands and avoid the emotional destruction. Any genuine person would understand your caution and if they don’t – they simply aren’t worth your money, or your heart.
Below we have highlighted some important facts about how romance scams operate. There are many types of scams, however these warning signs typically relate to the scams which have originated out of Nigeria. Russian and Ukrainian scams will be covered at a later date.
The warning signs:
ALWAYS consider the possibility that the person you are talking to online may be a scammer, particularly if any of the warning signs below appear.
- You’ve met someone online and their profile picture doesn’t match the description they have provided. Alternatively their profile pictures seem to be professionally taken or from a magazine.
- On making contact they immediately want to take communication off the dating website preferring email, instant messaging, skype and/or phone. Scammers have typically been known to use Yahoo accounts.
- The typical scenario is they are overseas on business and usually work as gem buyers, gemologists, civil engineers, in the army or working as a WHO Volunteer in an African country.
- They are typically widowed, with their partner dying as a result of a car accident or cancer.
- After a short amount of time they quickly profess their love for you and inundate you with emails, text messages, phone calls making you the centre of their world.
- Flowers and/or gifts are sent to your house (usually by way of a stolen credit card).
- Their grammar and/or spelling is not consistent with their stated education level or employment.
- When you speak to them on the phone, their accent is not in-keeping with their stated background.
- They always have an excuse why they are unable to speak via a video camera, or if they do come online it is hard to see them or they don’t answer any of your questions (usually a sign that they are playing back a taped recording)
- After they have gained your trust, their personal circumstances change whereby they need you to send them money, either by Western Union, Moneygram or by way of a nominated bank account. Some examples of circumstances can be any of the following:
- Your Date is plagued with medical problems requiring loans from you
- You are promised repayment upon the inheritance of gold or gems / or the bank releasing their money
- You’ve sent large sums for visas or plane tickets but the person cannot seem to make it out of the country
- When your Date does try to leave the country, they are detained by immigration officials demanding payment or bribes
Scenarios bearing these and other similar hallmarks have all proven to be scams intended to separate sympathetic people from their money. If you believe your Date is genuine, you MUST conduct a CupidScreen scam analysis prior to sending your Date any money.
Identifying whether you are being scammed:
Sometimes it’s harder than just ceasing contact with someone after they have asked you money. Scammers will only ever ask for money once they have gained your trust and this may take days or months – but by that stage you deeply trust this person.
If your Date has asked for money prior to meeting face to face, or you believe they may not be genuine, you should ALWAYS conduct a CupidScreen scam analysis. An experienced private investigator will do all the hard work for you and provide you with an analysis (and appropriate proof!) of whether you are being scammed or not. CupidScreen reports are also regularly requested by family members and loved ones of an individual who may be sending money overseas and refuses to believe they are being scammed.
Where to report a scam:
- Always report the scammer to the dating site you originally met them on. Unfortunately from our own experience we are only too familar with dating sites not taking enough responsibilty in banning these members or recognising high risk scam profiles. As a result, we strongly recommend you file a CupidScreen scam report and provide all contact details, photographs and documents provided to you by the scammer. We especially would like to hear from you if the dating site fails to follow up on your report.
- Report the scam via the CupidScreen website, forum or Facebook page.
- If you have already sent money, it is important to understand that recovery of this money is very low – even with the use of a private investigator. Private Investigators are experts in tracking down the individuals behind the scams, however they are not responsible for the arrest of the scammers and/or the recovery of the money. This lies in the hands of the law enforcement in the jurisdiction of where the scammer is and unfortunately the majority of these agencies do not consider romance scams a priority on their list. This is the reason why we stress the importance of conducting a CupidScreen background check and scam analysis prior to sending any money to your Date.
- Contact your local Police department who will file your report and forward it to the police department where your scammer is located.
- American Citizens can report their scam here: http://www.ic3.gov/complaint
- Australian Citizens can report their scam here: http://www.police.qld.gov.au/forms/nigerianComplaint.asp
- British Citizens can report their scam here: http://www.actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud
- Canadian Citizens can report their scam here: https://www.recol.ca/intro.aspx
- If your scammer is based in Nigeria, forward a copy of your report to the Nigerian police at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was created to fight financial cybercrime.
- If your scammer is based in Ghana, forward a copy of your report to the Ghana police at: email@example.com
- Consider reporting the scam to their email provider and via the method you sent money by (ie Western Union, Moneygram, or the bank). You won’t get your money back, but you will help prevent other victims by these scammers.
After the scam:
Once the scam has been identified you will no doubt feel inclined to let the scammer know. It is important to understand that ‘recovery scams’ are a popular technique used by scammers in an attempt to extort more money from you. As people can be anyone they want on the Internet, the scammers will recreate themselves as a solicitor, lawyer or police officer and advise you they can help get your money back, on the basis you pay them an upfront fee first. Always be vary wary of anyone emailing you or phoning you under these circumstances and ensure you verify all their credentials before speaking further with them. Never send any money under these circumstances.
You may be feeling a range of emotions, including grief, anger, embarrassment, depression and/or helplessness. Please understand that while you may feel that you can’t speak to your loved ones about this there are people, organisations and other support groups that are here to help you. Thousands of people in your area are being scammed every month under the same circumstances and it is important to realise that even the smartest people have fallen victim to these scumbags. If you are finding it hard to cope, it is important to seek assistance from someone or an agency that deals with depression such as Lifeline (http://www.lifeline.org.au) or Beyond Blue (http://ww.beyondblue.org.au).
Other victims have also created online forums whereby you can report your situation to prevent other victims. Some great forums include Romancescam.com (http://www.romancescam.com) and Romancescams.org (http://www.romancescams.org).
Internet Dating is a great place for meeting people, however there will always be those who use it to deceive the unsuspecting. Awareness is the number one way to help stop these scumbags and make your dating experience a more enjoyable one.
Julia Robson – Founder of CupidScreen