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Not everyone using online dating sites is looking for love. Scammers create fake online profiles using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel.

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Rachel Elwell, from the West Midlands, said the man, who claimed he lived nearby, told her he had gone abroad for an engineering contract in Ukraine. He convinced her with documents and pictures he needed money for issues that had cropped up and stated he had been taken captive by loan sharks. Ms Elwell, 50, said there was no guarantee of any money coming back. Asked why she had given money to a man she had never met, the export manager, of Brownhills, said: "When he said to me his life was in danger and I didn't hear from him, I thought he'd been murdered. Ms Elwell said after he had contacted her on 1 January claiming to live in Cannock, his "picture looked nice", he "seemed to like the same things as me" and "seemed quite an open and genuine guy". The man told her they would have to wait weeks to meet as he would need to stay in Ukraine, but later phoned claiming laws in that country had changed due to Covid and he now had to pay tax before any of the engineering work began, Ms Elwell said.

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Would she send him the money? Well When Romance Is a Scam.

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Floren may qualify as one of the luckier victims. Nofziger said of its victims.

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The elements of deception and manipulation in Ms. Con artists now find victims on any social media platform — Instagram, Facebook, games like Words With Friends. He also lived in her Chicago neighborhood, he told her, specifying a street.

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Last year, the topped 25, — though Ms. Older adults have been particularly hard hit. Ever considered a password manager? She took a break, had a cup of coffee, wondered why an international traveler had no credit card or employer willing to help.

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Last year, federal prosecutors brought a of alarming romance cases. Reports collected by the F. Inthe agency received 8, such complaints.

Woman loses nearly £k in dating site romance fraud

Posing as a military member is another red flag, along with overseas locations. Soon they shifted to phone conversations, often lasting an hour, and to texting several times a day. She advises friends and relatives to treat victims gently. Floren bought a gift card, reading her apparent suitor the. But after a few weeks, when he said he was coming to Chicago, they arranged to have dinner.

How to protect yourself from an online dating scam

You should. They chatted on the site for a week or so. Army general in Afghanistan. Gift cards, untraceable and available everywhere, have become the currency of choice for scammers, Ms. But they may also ask victims to open a bank and provide access to it, or to ship iPhones. They not only lost their money, but this dream they had. Weeks or months may pass before the scammers — generally not individuals, but criminal rings working in shifts hence their ability to be wooing online all day — make the key move. How could she help sympathizing when he revealed that his wife and child had been killed in a car crash long ago?

The criminals who lured her into an online scam last summer approached her not on a dating site, where she might have been wary, but through the neighborhood hub called Nextdoor. There are also many ways to brush away the tracks you leave on the internet. So do the photographs. Ellen Floren was not looking for love.

She agreed.

Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money

Vaca said. She was disappointed when the supposed Mr. Gibson got in too late to see her, then apologetically said he had just landed a big job in Europe and had to leave at once, postponing their date. Floren, who is 67 and a part-time educational consultant.

Bottom line: Anyone who appears to be pursuing romance online, while somehow never being available to meet in person, may be a fiction created by criminals.

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The romancers ask to switch to text, phone or messaging apps that offer more intimacy and less security monitoring. She encourages victims to report these crimes to the F. An AARP helpline helps people file complaints. Nofziger said. In Oklahoma, 10 Nigerian and United States citizens were indicted in a fraud ring targeting multiple victims in three states.

Their hearts are broken. Three days later, he called again, claiming to have left a bag of expensive tools in a cab. Floren said. They ask for money. Often, though, victims feel too humiliated to talk about what happened. The exchange of personal contact information also makes both parties appear trusting.

Could they have a conversation? Anyone — regardless of age, gender or education level — can fall for a romance swindle; in fact, younger adults are more apt to report losing money to these frauds.

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People in their 50s reported losing twice as much. With hindsight, she blames her vulnerability on the fact that her mother was dying.