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When “Love” Goes Wrong: The Online Dating Scam

By Security and Fraud Team

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Recognizing an online dating scam artist

Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year, hoping to find a companion or even a soul mate. But we want to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to victimize the lonely and vulnerable for fast money through a variety of scams.

These criminals—who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims—usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. In reality, they often live overseas. Their most common targets are women over 40, who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk.

Here’s how the scam usually works. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you. He or she may have a profile you can read or a picture that is e-mailed to you. For weeks, even months, you may chat back and forth with one another, forming a connection. You may even be sent flowers or other gifts. But ultimately, it’s going to happen—your new-found “friend” asks you for money.

Your online “date” may only be interested in your money if he or she:

  • Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging;

  • Professes instant feelings of love;

  • Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamour magazine;

  • Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas;

  • Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event; or

  • Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization).

 
One way to steer clear of these criminals altogether is to stick to online dating websites with nationally known reputations. But even within reputable sites, keep in mind the old adage: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Don't Be a Victim!

You need to know about credit union impersonation scams so you can avoid becoming a victim of these nefarious tactics.

Online and Mobile Banking will be unavailable on Thursday, May 9 from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Friday, May 10.