Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Dating site safety: Approach with extreme caution, officials advise

ASK US AT THE STAR


 

 

Are any dating sites considered safe for meeting new people?

On Valentine’s Day, in fact, as a word to the wise, there was a news report from the S.C. Attorney’s General’s Office about an online imposter stealing money from unsuspecting victims. The man was convicted of securities fraud and false pretense felonies.

In the digital age, more people have turned to online dating sites, especially as our population has become more transient and traditional community social networks have faded. But the possibility of deceit is so rampant, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warming during Valentine’s season not to let someone steal you blind, as the phrase goes, or possibly worse.

Reports of romance scams are growing and costing people a lot of money, says FTC Consumer Specialist Cristina Miranda. According to new agency data, the number of romance scams people report to the FTC has nearly tripled since 2015. Even more, the total amount of money people reported losing in 2019 is six times higher than it was five years ago—from $33 million lost to romance scammers in 2015 to $201 million in 2019. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC.

Romance scammers can be hard to detect, Miranda says, but there are suspicious signs. First, they frequently use someone else’s identity to create fake profiles. Bottomline— Be aware. You can spot a scam if someone you have never met asks you for money. Never communicate with such a person again. Report the incident to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. More information on romance scam is available through the site.

Other suspicious signs are—They’ll send you flattering messages to make a special connection, say all the right things and gain your trust. They might claim to be a doctor, a military service member, or maybe an oil rig worker living overseas. They want to make future plans with you, but then, something comes up and they ask you for money to help them out (which nearly always means asking you to buy gift cards (and give them the PIN, so they get the cash) or wiring them money.

Despite these possibilities, if you are still drawn to online dating options, take these steps to avoid imposters— Search online for the type of job the person says they have; See if other people have heard similar stories (For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “U.S. Army scammer”); Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture (If it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam).

In a word, don’t let love steal you blind. The exact source for this warning phrase is uncertain, but it has been used since the early 20th century, long before people had to worry about online safety, security, fraud, and danger.

The Columbia Star wants to add to the community’s storehouse of knowledge, whether it is a neighborhood matter, a larger issue or a simple curiosity. We’ll do the footwork for you. Submit your questions to: wmchughes27@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.