Meeting new friends and romantic partners

If you are looking for companionship and love online you should be extremely careful. There are sites which are searching for vulnerable candidates to scam.  There is no specific criteria for scammers and anyone can be targeted and can become a victim. These scammers can target all classes and even the most educated can fall prey to these traps. Searching for love can make us

more vulnerable than usual. Many scammers will use claims of love to convince their pry to open their bank accounts and once access is given victims are stripped of their account funds and assets. You need to be extremely cautious and aware when revealing personal information online.

Older individuals can be prime targets for online dating scams, especially in the case of a male scammer, they will typically prey on middle aged women in their 50's and 60's because they may often be more isolated (widow/divorce status and empty nesters) are typically they are financial secure.

Tips for staying safe:

It is wise not to share online your information such as home address, credit card number(s) or bank accounts. Make sure the person you are talking to is real and you can easily find out his or her location. Avoid overseas dating sites and stay local if you are visiting online sites. It can be safer to meet someone through a friend or a family member.

If pursuing a connection try to obtain as many pictures of the individual as possible. Cross reference their name and photo in various search engines and share this information with friends and family.

Look for details in the back ground if possible. Street names, dates and time, look for signs that seems out of the ordinary. Make sure to ask as many questions as you can and write down the answers to double check later. Scammers may forget their answers and this is a good way of cross checking their story.

If you exchange email addresses look at the person’s writing style, poorly drafted correspondence, including spelling and grammar mistakes are often noted by victims. Make sure you read your emails carefully and don’t delete them, review previous correspondence and note discrepancies. Ask for information, let them reveal details about themselves. The more they reveal the more you can discover about them and verify their truthfulness.

After building on your connection and moving to the next stage if the person is reluctant to have phone conversations that could be a signal that this person is not legit. Ask for a phone number and try and verify personal details via their number (location and name), watch for discrepancies in area codes. Does the individual have an accent and does it match the location they are claiming to be living in? Pay attention to background noise when on the call. Try and verify work details, does the business number supplied to you list the person’s name on the company work site? Try and gather additional personal information. It is suggested that you never give out your phone number first.

Possible alarm bells: the individual can only talk at specific times during the day, individual makes excuses for not giving you their number and insists on calling you, the individual speaks in a very soft manner as if they are hiding and not wanting others to hear the conversation, the individual may seem awkward or uncomfortable. Be comfortable with the pace your new connection is taking – if the individual is moving too fast and proclaiming love quickly that too may be cause for suspicion.

Be aware that some scams ask the new friend for money as a result of an accident or emergency, if this happens do not forward cash, verify the claim to the best of your ability first.

If you do become a victim please advise the site management and you should inform local authorities.

It is suggested that you visit websites of local police forces for additional scam prevention information. Educate yourself and learn how to spot a scammer. Preparation is smart – it will protect you and your loved ones.