Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, online dating sites have seen a tremendous surge in memberships. People are seeking romance online since in-person dating was sharply curtailed by lockdowns. Naturally, this proved to be an irresistible lure to scammers around the world. So much so that the FBI has recently issued a warning concerning confidence fraud which is increasingly targeting people who are looking for love online.
The surge in these types of scams has very real costs that impact those who fall victim to them in two main ways:
According to FBI statistics, these scams have cost their victims more than $113 million since the start of 2021 but the financial cost is just the beginning. Since these scams are designed to play with the emotions of their victims there’s a very real emotional cost as well.
To execute the scam the scammers begin by creating fake profiles on online dating websites and begin conversing with potential matches in the dating site’s ecosystem.
Once a potential victim is on the hook and lured by the prospect of romance the scammer will invent a story about a sudden crisis. This inevitably moves the conversation to ask for money to help a sick family member or to help cover travel expenses to facilitate an in-person face-to-face meeting. Naturally, there is no crisis and no meeting will ever take place. The entire point of the story is to try and convince the victim to part with his or her money.
In terms of protecting yourself against such scams the FIB Advisory recommends the following:
- Never send money, trade, or invest per the advice of someone you have solely met online.
- Do not disclose your current financial status to unknown and un-trusted individuals.
- Do not provide your banking information, Social Security Number, copies of your identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site you do not know is legitimate.
- If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely that–unbelievable.
- Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.
It’s excellent advice. Be sure your employees are aware of the current trend and on their guard against it.