OnLine Dating Scams: “Sweetheart Scams” and “Romance Scams”

Online Dating

OnLine Dating Scams: “Sweetheart Scams” and “Romance Scams”

Did you ever think you might need a private investigator to provide the research and information needed to protect yourself or your loved ones? You certainly might now. Dating websites are becoming very popular and are providing fertile ground for predators. Recently, a woman who joined Christian Mingle thought she might find Mr. Right. But $300,000 dollars later it was discovered he was a criminal from Nigeria who was only pretending to be her soul mate.

It began innocently enough with a great deal of innocent communication including flowers and multiple texts over time. He represented that he was from the United Kingdom and worked on an oil rig. Then he asked for some money for his oil business…and she agreed.

In total, she substantially depleted her retirement account and sent him a total of $500,000. The initial check was for $300,000, and fortunately, someone stepped in when they discovered she sent an additional $200,000 and contacted the authorities that discovered the scam. Although the second check for $200,000 was recovered, the initial $300,000 is likely long gone.

This is far from an isolated incident. In 2013, a man in Utah was sent to prison for a similar scam where he stole a total of $300,000 from two separate women. The list of these creative criminal scams is growing daily.

So, how can you protect yourself from these criminals? If you follow these four basic safety rules, and most importantly, verify the background of the person you are communicating with, you should be safe.

  • EXPECT SOME DISHONESTY: Online dating is really just a form of advertising. Like advertising, let the buyer beware. There is always some degree of exaggeration involved, and sometimes complete falsehoods. Participants will try to present what they perceive to be the best picture that they can to make them appear more desirable. Typically, this results at a minimum, misrepresenting their age, weight and employment. The authorities will not get involved. However, a licensed private investigator can find out if what is represented on the dating website is accurate.
  • BEWARE OF FRAUD: There are numerous international criminal groups that join online dating sites posing as individuals. The sole purpose of course is to get money from trusting, unsuspecting people. There is NEVER a reason for anyone you have never met and know nothing about to ask you for money. If someone does, immediately stop all communication and do not send any money.
  • DO NOT AGREE TO MEET: Never bring a person into you home when all you know about them is what they have posted online. A safe course of action would be to contact a licensed private investigator to research the person and verify they are who they say they are on the website.
  • IF YOU DO AGREE TO MEET: If you have enough information where you are comfortable enough to meet the person, make sure the first few meetings are in an open, public place. Make sure that your friends and family know where you are going to be, who you are going to be with, and when you expect to be home. Always keep your cell phone handy and if at any time anything makes you feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable…leave.

If you have questions about online dating scams or anything related to online dating scams then call today to schedule your Free Consultation at 813-902-0420, or visit our web site at