The dangers of online chatting begin with ourselves, and the false belief that we are too smart and it won't happen to us. We assume nothing wrong will ever happen, yet something has to happen to someone. Why shouldn't we become a victim if we play in the dangerous field of online chatting?
What makes any of us unique? Victimization is not a chooses beast. Did you know online dating crimes is one of the most lucrative crime businesses on the internet? You may think you are chatting with Eric Kelly from the Army, but there is a strong possibility it could be a criminal who is part of a global network. Perhaps in Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine or Turkey.
I have worked with doctors, lawyers, nail technicians, teachers and plenty of smart people who fell prey to an online romance scam. If you believe the goop that your chatting partner's mobile phone is broke and they cannot video, you are part of a fraud. If you fall for the jive that he is a special forces marine and cannot video because of top-secret mumbo-jumbo, but he can text; you are part of the fraud. If you look at his certificate for a multi-million-dollar contract and find it believable, you are in the swindle hook, line, and sinker. Think, open your mind and do not play a part in a romance crime. Ask questions, demand answers, if you get BS, get out of Dodge immediately. EST, excuses, stop today!
I wish I could get my words to the millions of online daters and chatters and let them know what I know; share what I have seen. Tell them of the heartbroken victims that are now financially devastated. The men and women who saved for retirement who will now work into their seventies. Or the ones who took out second mortgages on their homes or maxed out credit cards. Not one of them ever thought they would be a victim, each of them figured they were too smart to fall for a ruse. They were all wrong. What makes you any different?
If a person you are chatting with asks to borrow money form you say NO, GOODBYE and BLOCK them from your mobile, computer and life forever. Someone who loves and cares about you will not put you in financial jeopardy.
In the US alone there were over two-hundred-thirty-million dollars sent to online scammers worldwide. Law enforcement believes that is only about fifteen percent of the reported online dating crimes. This amount does not even scratch the surface on an international level. Most of my client base comes from outside the US.
Many victims are ashamed and afraid to come forward. They do not tell their families or contact law enforcement. They face the emotional pain and financial tragedy alone. Be responsible in your online world and make use of the words no and goodbye!
Many of the online dating victims I have been working with this month are from Germany, Monaco, and Sweden. It is as if the Romeo scammers are targeting women who have some command of the English language.
If you are involved in online dating and have not verified that the person you are chatting with is real or who they say they are then you need to take action. Verifying is not looking at the passport, or work ID and accepting for face value. Nor is it reviewing a bunch of photographs of his alleged children as proof of identity.
1. Examine the passport to confirm if valid. If you are unable to confirm, hire a professional.
2. If the scammer sends you a work identification, call the company and ask for the person. Do caution; the company could be a fake company.
Any and every piece of information online can be forged. Photographs mean nothing, they can be extracted from social sites. The photo of him holding a sign that reads I Love You can be photo-shopped. Even the phone number can be a prepaid mobile or an app number downloaded to a prepaid mobile. Today, phone numbers come and go.
Many of the victims who come to me believe that they are in a relationship with the subject; they label it a long distance relationship. There is a difference between online dating and long distance dating. Long distance dating is a relationship where you have met, have video conversations and lengthy phone conversations with another individual. They are relationships where you see the other persons face and hear their voice.
Meeting a person on an app or dating site and then conversing by SMS, WhatsApp, email or in Google Hangouts is not a relationship; it is a chatting and nothing more. A chatting partnership is the most dangerous type of online connection. It puts you in a vulnerable situation where you begin to believe the stories of the person on the other end. You allow yourself to like them, and what they are telling you. You let the flattery take over, your heart steps in and then it is all over; you are a victim of a dating scam.
Do yourself a favor and stop a moment. If you met someone online, ask yourself is it possible they are not who they claim to be? Is it possible they are lying to you? Is it possible the photos are fake? The story a lie? If yes has entered your mind, do something and do not become a victim.
Frank M. Ahearn can locate and identify a romance scammer.