Finding the love of your life for most is one of the hardest yet most rewarding challenges life has to offer. But when something is highly sought after and people are leaving themselves exposed as they are searching for a soul mate, others can easily take advantage and make a huge profit from a lonely person. Can a few tech savvy moves help protect you from online dating scams?
Online dating is a way that a lot of people try to find partners, and it makes targeting those users even easier than romance scams of yesteryear. But the people actually on the dating sites may surprise you. First off, in the U.S. alone, nearly 35 million Americans have tried online dating, and in the past decade or so, the number of users shot up by almost 50%, and an unexpectedly high number of older Americans also use dating sites and apps; over 1 in 10 daters are over the age of 55, but for the most part, most users are under 30. Regardless of age, however is the fact that they can all be targeted by scammers and lose huge amounts of their lives to someone trying to make a quick buck off of lonely people.
Today, romance related scams are the most expensive form of online fraud. In 2016, a Japanese woman sent her online boyfriend, a U.S. Army captain stationed in Syria, over $200,000 – leaving her very close to bankruptcy. But within a year, she found out that her boyfriend didn’t even exist, and instead, he was made up of a ring of 14 cyber scammers operating out of Los Angeles and Nigeria. In 2018, the average reported loss from a romance scam was an astounding $2,600 – that 7 times more than the cost of many other online scams, but for people over 70, the cost is much higher at a whopping $10,000 per scam and between the years 2010 and 2012, Debby Johnson lost over $1 million to an online dating scammer, liquidating her retirement, investments, and some of her parents’ savings.
These scams normally have several steps that lead to serious consequences in some cases. Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps that seem like the perfect match for a large number of people. Then, they strike up a relationship with their targets through frequent contact. After a while and once enough trust is built, the scammers make up a sob story and ask for money, such as paying for medical expenses, personal debts or travel expenses.
Find out how you can protect your heart and your wallet here.
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