Online dating websites have become increasingly popular in recent years.
PEW Research center reports that the use of these dating apps amongst 18-29 year olds have jumped by 17% between 2013 and 2015, and use amongst all demographics rose by 4%.
Not surprisingly, as the popularity of dating apps increases, so does the interest of scammers in taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable users. According to the Identity Theft Center (“ITC”), scammers require two components to carry out theft – an immediate connection with an unbeknownst user and a legitimate reason for infrequent communication with that user; for example, a job that requires a lot of travel such as the military, international business, or maybe work on a cargo ship.
After an emotional connection has been made, the scammer will then construct a story that includes the need for quick money that he or she has in an account, but cannot immediately access due to travel or work demands. This money is said to be needed for urgent medical care for a family member, and then, because of the strong connection already made, the victim sends the money to help. Once this first transaction is made, the scammer can then continue to the relationship and use similar stories to procure more and more money from the victim.
This is a particularly nasty form of theft that prays on vulnerable people looking to make genuine connections with others, and it’s easy to be taken by this scam. If you do use dating websites, look out for warning signs such as a relationship becoming too serious too quickly, odd behavior, and of course, requests for money. Identity thieves and internet scammers have become very skilled in what they do, so please remain vigilant. As always, if you think your personal information has been compromised, please contact us.