Online scammers targeting online dating websites: Tips to protect yourself


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PHOENIX – As online dating popularity grows, so does the interest of scammers who want to take advantage of those looking for love.

The scammers might claim to be successful businesspeople, models or even be in the military stationed overseas.

That’s what happened to Kathy.

“I received an email that said ‘hey, you look interesting, I want to meet you,’” said Kathy.

She asked us not to use her last name, but said she met a military man named James on an Internet dating site.

He claimed to be stationed in Kabul and, Kathy said, they clicked almost immediately.

“He told me he was from New York, he had a 16 year old son and was looking for the love of his life because his wife had passed away several years ago,” Kathy said.

Before long, Kathy said friendly conversation turned into declarations of love.

“I was the love of his life, and he knew that God had sent me into his life for a reason,” she said.

But just as he was about to come visit during leave, Kathy said, he asked her for $300.

That’s when the alarms starting going off.

“I asked him repeatedly to verify his name, his rank, his serial number.  And because of the job he’s doing in Kabul he couldn’t release that information,” she said.

So she started to do some digging of her own online.

And so can you.

Websites like Romancescam.com and Romancescams.org can help people identify dating scams. It even has a database for known fake profiles.

In Kathy’s case her “James” was showing up all over dating sites as a “Ricky James,” “Stuart James” and “William James.”

She’s relieved she didn’t fall for him and has a warning for legitimate online daters: “Beware of anyone who says they are in love with you immediately. In the first two weeks, that’s a big red flag.”

Other red flags include being in a different country and claiming that details are classified. If you have a picture, run a Google image search to see where else it pops up on the internet.

That way you can cut ties before they even get a chance to ask for cash.

Need my help? Call the Assistance League of Phoenix volunteers at 1-855-323-1515. You can also send me an e-mail, a tweet, or like the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!  If you want to be a volunteer and help consumers who call the Let Joe Know helpline, let us know. Just call the 855 number above. Leave your name, phone number, tell us that you want to volunteer, and we will get back to you. It’s a great way to help others AND learn the latest scams and how to protect yourself!


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