Who remembers the movie, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, with Steve Martin and Michael Caine, as two conmen who live off women by “waking their compassion” with shocking stories about their fake fates. Well, here is a new twist and it’s happening in the UK so I’m sure it’s happening here as well. Online dating scams seem to be hitting it big in the UK these days. It’s pathetic, that criminals are focusing on people who are looking for love and end up with hearts broken and wallet empty.
Researchers at the University of Leicester, UK, were of the first to measure this relatively new crime. More than 200,000 people have fallen victims to being wooed online. Out of the 2000 people that were polled over 52% knew of someone who had been scammed.
The criminals, believed to be connected to organized crime and working outside of the UK, set up a profile on a popular dating website or social website and starts looking for his/her victim. Most never actually meet but the con-person builds up an online rapport with his/her intended victim and soon asks for money usually for financial problems. This is not being detected by the dating service because the con-person moves the relationship to a more personal level and the couple starts corresponding by personal email. Being either lonely or very much smitten by all of the attention the victims have reportedly given from £50 to as much as £240,000. If the victim is not willing to send them money then the con-person tries to use the victims personal banking account to launder their money through.
Many of the victims have not come forward researchers believe due to the fact that they are too embarrassed by being vulnerable and taken advantage of. Some suicides have been reported from having been coned by someone they thought loved them in return.
The best advice is not send anyone money that you’ve only met on the internet. It’s sad but criminals will go to any lengths to make a buck or pound.
If you have been scammed and would like to file a scam report, please click here.