Do you want the good news or bad news first?
Well, the good news is that Canadian police identified and arrested a shadowy online gang that had been scamming women out huge sums of money. They’ll likely be put away and kept offline for some time.
The bad news? This gang already succeeded in separating $1.5 million from at least seven different women in the Toronto area, and there are likely more victims who have not come forward yet. Whether these women will be able to recover any of the funds stolen from them is an open question that could take years to find a resolution to.
Even worse, frauds like the one broken up in Canada are extremely common and only a small part of the $100 million plus that was conned from online daters in 2014.
The article that reported the recent bust of the online con artists reveals some of the specific tactics these fraudsters used, which share common elements of the approaches we have covered several times in past blogs posts. Among them, the establishment of online intimacy, an avoidance of meeting in person and of course, a request for money were all part of the scam’s repertoire.
Read the tips at the bottom of the linked article for some common sense ways to avoid being scammed but remember that fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated and may have built fake social media profiles to give weight to their stories. Looking up a social media profile as confirmation of a person’s identity is not enough any more to 100% verify an identity.
However, if your online love interest is exhibiting red flags that make you feel the need to verify their identity online, you should ask yourself if the relationship is worth pursuing.
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