Thousands of Los Angeles County residents visit online dating websites each year hoping to find a companion, close friend, or romantic partner. But criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams.
Fraudulent predators create fake profiles in the name of love to build online relationships. After scammers gain their victims’ trust on false pretenses, they glean every bit of personal information possible during the ‘relationship’ and use it to gain access to victims’ bank accounts or to commit identity theft.
Unfortunately, many victims do not report the crimes or their losses for fear of exposing embarrassing subject matter, a human emotion of vulnerability upon which these criminals depend to keep their momentum of extortion rolling.
If you already found your soulmate, congratulations! If you are still searching for that perfect love match and are using the internet or social media apps to make that connection, please consider the following online dating tips:
- Be mindful of what you make public or post online.
- Research that person’s profile and request new photos before meeting.
- Meet in a public place for first few times.
- Don’t allow your first date to walk or follow you home.
- Stay away from dark and secluded meeting places.
- Don’t send money to someone you met online.
- Tell a friend the details of the online date.
- Keep personal information to yourself.
- Trust your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right, avoid it.
- If you feel uncomfortable during the date, excuse yourself & leave.
- Do not believe everything you read online.
- Remember the person you meet may not be who you they are!
Be Mindful; your online date may only be interested in your money if he or she does the following:
- Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal email or instant messaging.
- Professes instant feelings of love.
- Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamour magazine.
- Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas.
- Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event.
- Asks for money for a variety of reason like the following: travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospital bills, bills for a child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is dedicated to working with the citizens of Los Angeles County in preventing Internet crimes and on educating the public of internet scams and social media crimes.
In the event of an emergency call 911. If you wish to report a non-emergent crime involving the internet please call your local Sheriff’s station, law enforcement agency or the LASD Fraud & Cyber Crime Bureau (562) 374-2601.
Federal Bureau of Investigation – Internet Crime Complaint Center – https://www.ic3.gov/
Federal Trade Commission – Romance Scams – https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-romance-scams
Click to view our Community Forum on Online Dating Safety and Romance Scams.