I’ve been working with Glamour for a few months to help draw attention to women about the prolific scams using online dating sites. I’ve been writing about these scams, especially those using photos of troops, for about six years now. While my efforts have been highlighted on numerous television media stations, this is the first time that a media outlet directed specifically at women picked up on those efforts.
In its October 2012 issue featuring a beautiful Emma Watson on the cover, writer Liz Brody showcases how these scams work. With permission from some of my readers who have been scammed, I passed their information to Liz. This is a widespread operation that nets scammers literally millions of dollars per year from around the world. For the most part, English-speaking, industrialized nations like the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia are targeted. However, gullible women in foreign countries are also targeted. I literally get emails and comments on this blog from countries as varied as South Africa, Colombia, Philippines, and France.
It is estimated that one in ten guys dating online is a fake and a fraud. Personally, I think that number is too low based on my experie
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3, tells Glamour that $4,000 an hour is lost to love scams, and experts agre the real number is much higher. “This is one of the most underreported crimes you’ll ever see,” says [Barb Sluppick, the founder of romancescams.org]. “People are so ashamed and hurt they don’t tell anyone, especially the FBI.” Last year Money-Gram alone (which, like Western Union, is used to wire funds) was able to prevent 4,879 romance-scam transactions totaling nearly $14 million from going through, thanks to a new detection system the company had set up. “Once we see the red flags – a transaction is within a certain dollar range, going to certain countries, or sent by a woman to a man with a different name, for example – we’ll get on the phone and tell her we have some concerns,” says Kim Garner, senior vice president of global security and investigations. “It’s a very emotional call.”
I focus largely on the military aspect of these scams. Over the past few years, I’ve seen these scammers use all kinds of photos removed from open Facebook pages, blogs, official military websites, and command pages. I’ve also seen my own photos and name used.
Datanta.com is a free online dating site with a global community. Two years ago, I got a Google news alert that my name had appeared on the site. Because there are unscrupulous, money-starved, washed-up, has-beens that like to libel me online I keep track of when and where my name is used. I keep meticulous screen captures of these instances for potential litigation.
I alerted the dating site immediately that my name and images were being used without my permission. As a happily married man, I don’t have a use for dating sites. I found my wife the old-fashioned way – chloroform and mind-altering drugs slipped into her drink. 😉
The funny thing about this particular profile is that practically none of the information was accurate. As you can see above, whomever created that profile aged me about five years and noted that I was a “Democrat.” That alone is cause for a lawsuit! Here’s the rest of my life I never knew about.
Glamour did a GREAT job of bringing attention to this issue. They were even able to contact someone in Nigeria who was one of the scammers. It’s a great read. If you or someone you know might be getting scammed, get yourself a copy of this issue to keep handy. Show it to them. There is a lot of good information that is very helpful. For example, if you’re not sure if you’re being scammed, ask yourself the following questions: Did he say ‘I love you’ within a few weeks? Does he often get interrupted when you ask something, giving him time to do a Google search for the answer? Does he make up things going on in his life that require financial assistance? Does he refuse to answer some specific questions by accusing you of having trust issues?
This site currently hosts names of hundreds of scammers. My posts on dating scams have garnered literally thousands of comments and is home to a budding community of support. If you think you’re being scammed, run the name through my site search. Check out my other posts on scammers by clicking this link. Above all, NEVER give any personal information to someone you’ve never met in person. Always meet in a public, populated area the first time. If you’re still not sure, email me.