Every day men and women around the world are tricked by the top Internet scams. Typically, by the time they realize they have been deceived, it’s too late. Thousands, even millions of dollars later, they are left wondering why they didn’t see it coming from the start. Far too often, the response is, “I knew it was too good to be true.”
Sometimes it’s a handsome man on a dating service, other times it’s a fake email from your bank. This is the way scammers take advantage of their victims; they find a weakness and exploit it. Con artists hide behind the computer and easily create fake identities to trick perfect strangers. In fact, chances are you have had online contact with a scammer without even knowing it.
As the Internet becomes more complex and we continue to converse with more individuals online, it is difficult to know if people are who they say they are. In order to avoid scams, it is important to trust your instincts and learn from the stories of other victims. Here are three of the most common online scams out there:
Phishing scams are a common scheme con artists use to drain their victims’ bank accounts. They send an email that seems like it came from the bank. In the content, it warns you about identity theft and asks you to verify your account information. The email will warn you that if you do not send back your information, your account will be terminated.
Because the email’s purpose is to “protect you” from identity theft, it seems like it could not possibly be a scam. Unfortunately, these con artists get creative and can trick even the smartest of individuals. With bank logos and real links, the email may seem legitimate. And in just one click, your bank account could be drained faster than you can say “scam.”
Phishing scams continue to collect over $1 billion from their victims each year. If you receive such an email from your bank, call a representative about the matter. And above all, never send your bank account information over the Internet. If you do, chances are you will be stuck in a very “phishy” situation.
Auction frauds are the most popular scam, accounting for nearly 75% of the registered complaints to the FBI. If you have ever sent in your money online to purchase an item and have gotten nothing in return, you have experienced auction fraud.
One famous incident involved a woman who accepted bids for Louis Vuitton bags she never owned. She collected over $18,000 from bidders who were just looking for a bargain. Needless to say, none of the customers received their promised bags nor their money back. The stories go on and on, and yet more and more people are swindled every year. In order to avoid auction fraud, you must trust your instincts. We all like a good bargain, but sooner or later we have to realize that some deals are just too good to be true.
Perhaps the most emotionally traumatizing scams involve those that play with our hearts: the romance scams. We’ve all heard the stories of the man who wins a woman’s heart (and her bank account) through an online dating website, and then turns out to look nothing like the smiling man in his profile picture. Usually, the scammer is millions of miles away in a country like Nigeria, not to mention many years younger than his profile indicates.
Take the story of Ellen. Ellen, a 65-year old woman from British Columbia, lived a happy life that became a lot happier when she met the man of her dreams online. He called himself Dave, and they spoke over the Internet for several months. Dave claimed to have been left with a large inheritance but could not access it without clearing some of his debts. Dave asked Ellen to help him, to which she complied by transferring some of her money to his accounts. She continued to send money as Dave continued to plea, and she even traveled to foreign countries to deliver money to his “friends.”
Long story short, Ellen’s bank account continued to diminish and at the end of the long-term relationship, she was $1.3 million poorer, and “Dave” $1.3 million richer. Ellen finally discovered she had been scammed all along, and “Dave” was, in fact, multiple people working behind a computer screen somewhere in West Africa.
Like Ellen, thousands of people fall victim to romance scams each year. Con artists can look on dating sites to see what you are looking for and then transform into your ideal partner.
Because victims of romance scams fall in love, they have a difficult time seeing the facts. The bottom line is if an online dating partner truly loves you, the digits in your bank account won’t matter.
With countless scams and frauds every day, the Internet can be a scary place, especially in the online dating world. That is why we at Stitch have created a safe, scam-free dating service that leaves no room for fake profiles. We require that each member verifies his or her identity before they can communicate with other members. Additionally, our members can only chat if both have agreed, so there is no solicited contact. Finally, we make sure that when you do speak, we give you the option of a secure chat room and phone line so that you never have to share personal contact information until you are ready.
To try out Stitch, safe online dating and companionship, click here.
Of course, it’s always important to be safe online. When all’s said and done, if you find yourself thinking, “this is too good to be true” make sure you take the right measures to protect your personal information until you know more about the other person.