Report: Every 3 hours, an online dater gets scammed

  • Alex Thomas Sadler
  • Clark.com
11:52 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 Atlanta Life

In today's digitally connected world, online dating has become more popular than ever. In fact, more than 15 percent of American adults say they have used an online dating site or mobile app, according to the Pew Research Center.

While you're looking for love online, however, there are a lot of creepy criminals out there trying to take advantage of you.

According to a new report from the UK's City of London Police, there's a new case of online dating fraud every three hours.  

The way it works is similar to many other common scams, but with online dating, the criminals establish a convincing relationship with the victim in order to make him or her really believe that their help is necessary.  

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According to the report, scammers will typically request money with the first month — either via email or even over the phone. If the criminals can convince someone over the phone that they are who they say they are, the person is more likely to hand over the money.

Scammers typically prey on people who are likely to be vulnerable in the situation — they will go after anyone, regardless of how sick it is.  

According to the FBI, the most common targets of online dating scams in the U.S. are women over the age of 40 who are divorced, widowed and/or disabled.  

And the financial damage can be devastating — ranging from thousands of dollars to even millions.  

According to the London Police report, the average amount lost in an online dating scam in the UK is 10,000 pounds (about $12,464).

Here are some tips from the FBI on how to spot a potential online dating scam and recognize whether the person on the other end might just be after your money.  

You should be suspicious if your "date" does any of the following: 

You should never send money via wire transfer to someone you met online or someone whose identity you can't 100 percent confirm. Once that money leaves your bank account, you will never get it back.  

The FBI says the best way to avoid these scams is to stick to online dating sites with nationally known reputations. Look for reviews and never share any personal information that you wouldn't want exposed to a criminal.  

If you think you've been a victim of an online dating scam or any Internet-related crime, the FBI says you should file a report at www.ic3.gov.

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