Avoiding internet dating scams
Her advice might sound obvious, but a growing number of people are falling prey to dating scams, Hongkongers included. The scammer claimed he needed money urgently for an engineering project, and promised to pay it back after completion of the project. In the first half of this year, online dating and romance scam cases were reported in the city, up 2. In , Hong Kong Police released a videobased on a real-life case, hoping it would raise awareness about romance scams. Hannaford is also on a mission to raise awareness.
Politicians have spoken out on the subject. Hong Kong-based dating and relationship coach Valentina Tudose says internet dating scams are a painful reality for many women — and smart professional women are falling prey.
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- The common scam pattern.
Police figures show that women account for 95 per cent of victims, and they generally possess higher academic qualifications, are computer-literate and able to communicate in English. People have little free time due to long working hours, and a gender imbalance, with males for every 1, females, according to the Census and Statistics Department.
Hongkonger Ginny Lim, not her real name, is under family pressure to find a husband. She is 32, has a good job in digital marketing, but has never had a serious boyfriend. She has used dating sites but is wary and believes pressure to get married is a reason why so many women fall for romance scams. In the age of dating apps and socially acceptable e-stalking, a new lexicon has evolved.
Profile Warning Signs
Another is ghosting, when someone ends a relationship by disappearing suddenly without explanation, withdrawing from all communication. Hong Kong-based psychotherapist Gabrielle Tuscher is seeing a growing number of young women, some still in their teens, fall victim to ghosting.
The man implied that his wife was like those catfish, keeping the lives of others fresh and interesting. The movie spawned a TV series of the same name. Some scammers are even using social media, creating fake Facebook accounts and fake webcam footage. Some scammers will ask for money multiple times as the relationship progresses, continually upping the amount requested. Others will ask you to move money for them, which may make you an unwitting accomplice in another scam. Always has an excuse to postpone meeting: Someone really interested in a relationship will want to see you in person.
But be on the lookout for big discrepancies. For example, a scammer may describe their fake persona as blonde but uses a photo of a brunette. Claims to be from this country but is currently traveling, living or working abroad: Scammers frequently pretend to be temporarily working or stationed overseas. Has a suspicious social media profile Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
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Their profiles tend to have few friends and be rife with grammatical errors. One UK woman was jailed for two years for writing such scripts. Not all scammers will bother paying for original content and things like poetry and romantic verses can easily be lifted from the internet. When it comes to online public profiles, you should be very cautious about the pieces of information you divulge.
For people conducting these scams, this is often their full-time job.
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A British Columbia man was in an online relationship for just six weeks before he started handing over money to his suitor. One romance scam victim described the feeling as similar to being brainwashed. This can start out very innocently. But it can quickly ramp up.
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A common request for money can involve the scammer coming to visit the victim. They might say they need money for flights or other expenses. Other large sums might be requested for investing in a business or for medical costs. The urgency of these demands tends to ramp up and can even become threatening.
One common request is to send money for fees with the pretense that the victim will be compensated with additional often huge sums of money.
She believed she was set to receive a sum many times higher than that in compensation from the Nigerian court system. There is some good news in that companies like Western Union are being held accountable for helping scammers. As such, they are becoming more strict about the transfers they allow to go through. Of course, there are always other ways to transfer money. But this stuff happens all the time during online dating scams.
How to Avoid a Romance Scam When Using Online Dating Sites
Similarly, you should never receive or sends goods or money on behalf of someone else. Sharon Armstrong learned about this type of scam the hard way. Unfortunately, she ended up spending two and a half years in an Argentinian prison for cocaine smuggling. Whether the fraudster has promised to visit the victim or pay them back some money, there is always some excuse. These can be elaborate to the point where they may seem believable.
One common scenario involves the victim believing the scammer is coming to visit them. Then something comes up and the scammer needs money for a passport or a ticket or to tie up some loose ends. While pinning their hopes on a real-life meeting, the victim keeps doling out money, even though the excuses become more and more far-fetched. Online dating scams are often run by highly organized crime rings.
Avoid a Romance Scam When Using Dating Sites - Consumer Reports
If so, you should report the scammer to whichever platform you met them on. You can also report the incident to your local police especially if you have handed over any money or performed any requested tasks and to the fraud centre in your country of residence:. They can offer support and help you get out before things go further.
Can anyone tell me how l check out a photo of a guy l meet on line to see if he is a scammer as l would like to also warn the guy.