The past year, I have spent a lot of time identifying and skip tracing online dating scams, also known as romance scams, military scams and Romeo scams. Most of my clients have one thing in common; they have never had a face-to-face video with the supposed significant other. Many of the excuses are lousy service area; they do not like to video, they are working at sea, their mobile camera is broke, etc.
In this day and age, there is no reason not to video, considering we have Skype, Whatsapp, and Google hangouts. I believe it is essential to hold the line of no face-to-face, then no relationship and immediately stop corresponding and block them on all social media. Be aware; some scammers will contact potential victims as different people and start the relationship over. So while you are picking through the potential mates on Match, POF, Tinder, and Jdate, be cautious and note it could be the person you cut off.
Another item clients have reported is at times they felt they were talking or texting with a different person. It is not uncommon for these fraudsters to work in teams and pass people around.
If you are dating online, do not be shy about asking questions. If they tell you they are in a hotel in Dubai, or Chicago asks them to take a photo of themselves with a local newspaper, or open the drawer and take a pic of the phone book. Sure it sounds silly but if they are reluctant, question why?
Some scammers will work the long con and stay in a relationship for years before they hit the victim up for money. The request for cash ranges from a quick business loan, an emergency occurred, they need help in financing their trip to visit the victim. Sometimes the money goes Western Union, I have seen the money funneled through a different victim and on to the criminal. If your mate asks for money, ask for a video call. No call no money, well actually never send money.
The first step in protecting yourself is uploading the person you met photos to a site like Tineye.com which will scan the net for the same face or photo. Always consider your online date a potential scammer until proven otherwise.
Items To Consider
1. You searched for the person's photos online.
2. You have a working phone number and have spoken to the person on that number.
3. You have done a face-to-face video where the person's face was unobstructed.
4. The voice accent accurate?
5. Time Zone, are they communicating from the correct time zone. Meaning, the person told you they live in Monaco but always contacts in the daytime in a different time zone.
Frank M. Ahearn identifies online scams and scammers.