Dating apps are being used for a vicious new scam, FBI warns #nigeria | #nigeriascams | #lovescams

It’s completely despicable, but not in the least surprising, that scammers have turned to dating apps to find their latest victims. The FBI recently published a public service announcement that alerts dating app users to a cruel scam making the rounds. As the FBI explains, scammers ask people they match with to verify their identity for safety reasons. They then share links to sites capable of stealing the victim’s money and private information.

Given the inherent risks associated with using a dating app, this can be a frighteningly effective scheme. After all, virtually everyone you meet on a dating app is a complete stranger. Of course some users want to know who they’re talking to before agreeing to meet up.

Here’s how the scheme works so you’ll know what to look out for. First, your match on Bumble, Hinge, or Tinder will attempt to establish a relationship quickly and then move the conversation off the dating app. They will then ask you to verify your identity, perhaps because they had bad experiences in the past or because they want to make sure you aren’t a sex offender or serial killer. Next, they will send a link to a “free” online verification service.

FBI warns of dating app verification scam. Image source: FBI

There are many such websites, plenty of which look real at first glance. Some even use clips of fake articles to promote the website’s legitimacy. The site will then ask you to enter your name, phone number, email address, and credit card number to verify your identity.

Even though these sites claim that you don’t have to pay for their services, they redirect users to “private, low-quality dating sites charging costly monthly subscription fees.” You may not actually see it happen, but you will see a mysterious charge on your credit card.

Here are some tips from the FBI to avoid dating app scams like these going forward:

  • Avoid clicking on links, downloading files, or opening attachments from someone you only met online. Only open attachments from known senders and scan all attachments for viruses, if possible.
  • Avoid moving the conversation from a reputable dating site’s messaging service, since many of these offer some safety features.
  • Report suspicious user profiles to the dating site administrator and cease all contact with suspicious users.
  • Be cautious of someone you only met online professing their love quickly, expressing a need for help, and/or enticing you with provocative pictures and text topics. Fraudsters use social behavior to deceive you and separate you from your hard-earned money.
  • Do not provide sensitive information to someone you only met online. Regularly monitor your personal financial accounts for irregularities, such as recurring charges to unknown businesses.
  • Contact your credit card issuer/bank as soon as possible if you discover what appears to be a fraudulent transaction. Explore the possibility of closing that credit card.
  • Use one credit card with a limited balance or consider using virtual credit cards when subscribing to new online services.
  • Avoid websites that use scare tactics to coerce you to register for a service. Search the source of all information to determine its legitimacy.
  • Stay updated about the latest fraud schemes by following the FBI IC3 website or other financial government websites.

As difficult as it can be to find the perfect match on any dating app, always be vigilant when the conversation starts moving in a direction that seems suspicious.

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