Online Romance Scams

This afternoon Wayne surprised me and came home from work early. Thank goodness I had just woken up from my nap. He’d tease me mercilessly if he found me conked out on the couch. (He thinks that’s what I do all day as it is, which I do sometimes, but not always. But he’d never believe me if he actually caught me in the act.)

At any rate, he’d had CPE (Continuing Professional Education) training for half the day. Instead of going in to the office for only a few hours, he opted to skip the drive and come home to work instead.

He popped on the TV and worked downstairs while I folded laundry upstairs. But when I finished I came down to watch Oprah with him. Which proved fruitful. It gave me a topic idea for today.

Oprah’s show du jour was scams. All kinds of them. But the one that caught my attention was the romance scams.

The Danger of Online Dating Sites

I’d heard of people getting scammed though online dating sites before, but what I didn’t know was how many people have fallen victim to scammers. Or that there are sites like RomanceScams.org or RomanceScam.com dedicated to identifying such scammers and helping victims.

How do scammers operate on online dating sites? Here are some signs they said to watch out for:

  1. If you’ve just met someone who wants you to take yourself “off the online dating market” so to speak by conversing with them exclusively through IM or email.
  2. They drop the “L” bomb in no time flat.
  3. They claim they’re working in a foreign country (Nigeria is an extremely popular one) and mention they are having trouble cashing checks.
  4. They want to meet you, but for some reason or other need you to pay their travel expenses.
  5. They want you to cash a check for them. And they need you because they have no family or other close friends who can help them.

Another one to watch out for is some find out they’re being scammed, call the scammer on it, then the scammer says, “Yes, but I ended up falling in love with you.” And then they go on to play on the person’s emotions and scam them anyway.

Something I found surprising was that it’s not just one sex being scammed more than the other. It’s about 50/50.

The Danger of Buying Wedding Dresses on eBay or Other Auction Sites

I thought this type of scam was also worth mentioning. Seems that scammers have no scruples at all. If they find a way to play on your emotions and get your money, they’ll try it.

In this scam they put an expensive, designer wedding dress up for sale. Now it can work two ways:

  1. They put a minimum asking bid that must be met. You bid and bid, maybe even win the bid, but you don’t meet their minimum asking bid. That’s okay. They contact you and say they see you really want it and will take your bid after all, just send them the money. Of course they never send the dress.
  2. They don’t even bother going through the minimum asking bid hassle. You win the bid but they simply don’t deliver the goods.

The key to using both the online dating and auction sites is to never forget the caveat emptor, or buyer beware, rule. Truly, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

I know there’s usually a “probably” in the last part of that saying, but “probably” leaves an opening for thinking “there might be a chance this is legit.” Don’t even go there and you’ll never get yourself in a mess!

Note

The RomanceScam.com site was mentioned on Oprah. When I went to try and pull it up it seemed its server was overwhelmed by others also trying to check it out. That may be why if you try to use the link above it doesn’t work.

Courtney Mroch writes about animals great and small in Pets and the harmony and strife that encompasses married life in Marriage. For a full listing of her articles click here.

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