If you think your monthly online dating membership may be a little steep, take a time out to consider the current plight of our Antipodean cousins.
Queensland’s Fraud and Corporate Crime Group, headed up by Det. Supt. Brian Hay, believes that $10M Australian Dollars are being fraudulently extracted to Nigeria via internet scams every single month. Much of that ‘investment’ is being willingly handed over in the name of love from members of dating sites, being coerced by African nationals who spend all day, every day wooing vulnerable singles online.
Australian police had hoped the country’s populous had learned its lesson, following an e-mail scam some five years ago involving similar trafficking to African shores; however, it seems that the Nigerian scammers have moved with the times and, through dating websites, continue to fleece money from unsuspecting online dating site members.
Brian and his team have recorded some initial success, but warns that the fraudsters will soon be targeting UK dating agencies and plan to go even further into Europe, where free dating memberships are on the rise.
Following a tip-off from the sibling of a 53-year old mature dating site member, the fraud squad, assisted by a p.i., intercepted a money transfer for thousands of dollars in Kuala Lumpur. In a cunning plan, they created a make-believe personals profile, which the gang fell for and were subsequently arrested.
Det. Supt. Hay believes that this is just the tip of the iceberg; Rosalie, the target whose plight instigated this sting, is just one of 10,000 Australians who, through free dating sites or other internet platforms, contribute to this vast flow of elicited money to Africa. However, it is uncertain how much of the AUS$90,000 that Rosalie endowed upon this fraudulent individual, after falling in love online with him, she will be able to retrieve.
In an interview with 60 minutes, on air Sunday, Julia Robson explains how her career as a Datescreen private investigator involves assessing the backgrounds of singles dating online. She has short shrift with people involved with this scam and has ‘…no sympathy for these people, none whatsoever.’
So how will we catch wind of potential unscrupulous partners if considering entering into a relationship?
Other than a voyeur continually badgering you through the dating site personals messages or forums, professing their undying love, there are other tell-tale signs.
Beware of someone who is gaining your trust suddenly introducing a friend with a life-changing opportunity. Even with ‘pictorial’ evidence, never send money overseas without independent advice.
Invest in Skype. It is free and you can video-link to your online dating partner to ensure the person at least matches their profile through your laptop interface.
And finally, when the tru.ly app comes into force (as it looks like catching on for UK dating sites, as well as the US), make sure they have no objection to sharing that information.
These conmen are only after one thing!