Could That Prince Charming Turn You Into a Criminal – Without You Even Knowing?
In just the last three years, the Better Business Bureau has received hundreds of Scam Tracker reports, all related to romance fraud. As if dating isn’t challenging enough…
We’ve all heard the stories. So it’s no surprise that dating sites report suspicious activity on their apps. But what is surprising is the way these scammers work – and how they lure innocent women (and men too) into traps – oftentimes stealing their money, and even worse — making them accomplices in fraud.
Accomplices? In fraud? Terrill Caplan of Fraud Aid, a victim advocacy organization, describes the inner workings of these kinds of sick scammers who use their victims as money mules.
According to Caplan, 20 to 30 percent of romance fraud victims were used as money mules in 2018. And the scariest part is, most victims don’t realize what is happening or know that they are actually participating in the crime. The scammers lurk behind charming dating profiles and groom their victims by building a relationship that is everything their victims are looking for in a partner. They send cute texts, deliver flowers to the office… you know the drill. It can take months for scammers to build up a trusting relationship with their victims before asking for money.
And even if you don’t end up in legal trouble, a fake romance can wipe you out. Just look at these numbers:
How do they loop you in?
Usually, after building a trusting relationship, scammers will ask for money for “an emergency.” To a scammer, this is a great way to steal money from their victims without being discovered. And just by agreeing to their plea and transferring the money, you become a participant in a crime, and therefore an actual criminal yourself… even though you are the victim!
Here are just a few ways romance scammers ask for money, luring their victims into becoming money mules for their operations:
– for an emergency
– for a business problem
– for a plane ticket to finally meet
These scams can be extremely dangerous: victims have been pulled into money laundering and drug trafficking schemes — and even convinced to fly overseas to meet in person and end up kidnapped and held for ransom!!!
If you’ve been single in the Internet age, you’ve probably tried online dating. And you know that there is a huge difference between taking a risk that your date might be a little odd, but totally harmless — and taking a risk that puts your entire future, and maybe even life, in jeopardy.
Most of us want to find love – and want to believe someone who seems like they could be “The ONE.” But these people are professionals. They know how to lure you in and how to convince you to trust them.
Don’t risk it. It’s too easy for someone on a dating site to be a fraud. Ask for a SafetyPIN to know that there is nothing suspicious in the other person’s past, to prove they are who they say they are, and to give you instant peace of mind that they can be trusted.
And if they don’t have one, ask them to apply. Most applications are approved within 24-48 hours. If they won’t apply or say they can’t wait that long, that’s a huge red flag.
Most background checks only screen the “National Criminal Database,” which excludes 22 states completely, and leaves out a LOT of counties across 12 other states. Better background checks will screen down to the county someone lives in, and, in some cases, the counties they’ve lived in for the past 7 years. But we know criminals don’t stop at the county line – so neither do we.
Forty-year-old Phoebe was applying to be a house-sitter. Our review showed she’d been arrested for shoplifting when she was 33. That’s a little too old to write-off as a youthful indiscretion. When our experts asked Phoebe for more details, her answers became defensive and she refused to explain any circumstances around her arrest. Most background checks would overlook a single
This is a case we often talk about in our offices. Bill applied for a SafetyPIN in mid-June. From the beginning, there was something about his application and information that concerned us, but we couldn’t put our finger on it at first. It certainly didn’t help that he called customer service almost every day to ask about the status of his SafetyPIN.