Online dating fraud – don’t fall for the lies

There is absolutely nothing worse than building up a relationship over any length of time only to find out that it has been based upon a pack of lies. This is true in online dating and in the real world.

What compounds that act is when the person who you have opened your heart to has also left you devoid of cash as well as emotion. It’s sad, but true, that this is a constant thorn in the side of UK dating sites; indeed, across the whole of the web these crooks are pouncing, buttering up singles who they choose at random or with forethought, and it is a stigma that the dating site industry, in co-operation with fraud squads across the world, are trying to rid themselves of.

We continue our report into published documentation by Action Fraud, a UK organisation who are bringing to our attention a whole set of criteria that, when recognised, helps us spot these conmen on our dating sites, with a look into the extent these swindlers will go to in order to spin a believable yarn. The sooner you can nip this in the bud, the better. The longest case on record involved one dating site member who was groomed over a five-year period; even if it is token trinkets that the masqueraders entice you to send, the longer your ‘relationship’ continues, the grander the final bill!

no excuse for not spotting a fraudulent dating site profile

When the conman thinks you are primed and ready – you may have already sent small sums or mobile phones to enable them to stay in touch – you will be asked for the big one: the letter that their months of patience have been building up to. It can come in the form of an e-mail, private message on the dating site (not likely , as they will have tried to get you to communicate by other means away from dating site security and admin checks), by air-mail or, the most likely method, by instant messenger.

There will always have been a major catastrophe which has beset them; either their cousin needs £10,000 to stop their house being repossessed, their daughter is in need of medical attention, or a tragic occurrence that has befallen them on the way with the money to repay what they have already leant and their money, which does not exist, is with a.n.other, rendering it thus inaccessible.

That third party, like their money, is mythical – by including another human element, they believe it gives credence to their story, especially if that person was the cog in the machine that was going to get your money to you.

It may sound altogether convincing as you’re reading this alongside that false image on their dating site profile but beware – none of it is real. If you have given, stop; if you’re yet to give, reconsider: just how well do you know your online love? Politely refuse and move on; it may be hard, but it will save you more than simply face and heartache in the long run.

Attention – dating in-line!

Polished boots and buttons, razor-sharp haircuts, pressed khakis and the youthful look a beret invokes makes that private on parade seem like the ideal date.

Who wouldn’t be tempted into a relationship with one of our brave boys and girls? Organised, responsive to instruction, regular income and whilst away at barracks or front-line duty, allows plenty of free time for yourself in the initial courtship stages? Seems too good to be true…
…and perhaps, sometimes, that’s exactly what it is.

There are growing concerns that singles advertising themselves on online dating agencies as being part of Her Majesty’s Forces are nothing of the sort. Evidence is starting to be gathered that some of those purporting to be looking for love on line from the front line are not just members of society with low self-esteem looking to bolster their online dating profile, either.

Rather more sinisterly, there are gangs of confidence tricksters downloading images of our brave forces on active duty ad incorporating the in their profile to gain the sympathy and trust of others using the same matchmaking service.

Predominant in the US, the Criminal Investigation Command serving their forces against such thievery, has formally issued several memos warning both their forces and the online dating community at large about the situation.

In one reported incident, one woman surrendered $127,000 to one such claimant, after being wooed by promises of love, commitment and financial security once the ‘soldier’s’ term of service is over. And this woman is not unlike many other single women looking for romance online in the 30-55 age group, which these gang have identified as being the most vulnerable; she was dragged in by charm, plausibility and an expert ability to ‘pull the right strings’ that these gangs have honed, with practise.

Like so many scams targeted at gaining confidence in the lead up to asking for cold hard cash, these gangs are believed to be operating out of Africa. Whereas in the past, the demands for funds have been disguised as ‘an opportunity to invest’ or emotional blackmailing tactics, this type of online fraud can be a lot more difficult to spot, at first.

If you are genuinely concerned that the person approaching you on your dating site is not all they claim to be, until we are privileged to similar apps available in the US that check government and criminal records against specific dating profile information, in the UK you can check the service history of anyone claiming to be a member of H.M. Forces, Military Genealogy  where there are over two million military service records accessible for free.

NYPD? DYP App polices dating prospects for you

With countless new dating sites eternally hitting the internet, it’s no surprise that security is a growing concern. The real worry, especially with many free dating site ventures that rely purely on advertising or sponsorship for revenue, is that countless new sign-ups are being allowed to register with appropriate scrutiny.

Following on from the beta launch of the tru.ly app in the US, which double-checks new singles dating site registrations against governmental records, there is yet another security-conscious app, this time which can check a potential date’s criminal records.

Available for both iPhones and Android devices, the new instantly-downloadable application, called the ‘Docket in Your Pocket’ is currently available only in Pennsylvania.  However, it may well catch on quickly across the internet dating global community.

For a one-time price of $2.99, once installed the app searches through over 32 million court records, stretching back to the start of this millenium. Few crimes are exempt, which is good news for the dating community at large. If a potential date has commited a jaywalking offence, that may even be considered an ice-breaker after striking up your online relationship.

However, if the crime is as serious as robbery, or even rape, for the sake of $2.99, this application could be one of the best investmants for the online dating community in a long while. And it may be worth getting now, as the cost to keep the records up-to-date as it deletes older records to make way for the latest week’s new ones is running at around $600. This may mean that for future downloads, a subscription may be required in order to make it profitable for the creator.

Matt Haindfield, who developed the application affectionately christened the ‘DYP’, did so after drawing up blanks for every platform available to mobile devices for researching criminal records.

Mr Haindfield, a lawyer from Iowa, was looking into the dubious criminal past of a witness but could find nothing whatsoever available; subsequently, he has no qualms about the legitimacy or moral debate about the records which many online dating services could eventually endorse.

It is Mr Haindfield’s reasoning that, as these records are held by the state, ownership transfers to the public, because people’s taxes fund that state.

The one concern that has been raised, however, is the possible impact this device can have on existing relationships, on- or off-line, or in the workplace. It is quite possible to see how, ‘for a laugh’, a group of workmates or friends could put their names through this app. If one of the group has a record that they have worked hard to leave in the past, it may lead to them being ostracised for something that is irrelevant to the person they are now.

But, for the purposes of online dating, it is nothing but a plus – prevention, as they say, is better thn cure.

A free date for your diary?

Very rarely, these days, do we get offered a little something for nothing, especially on the internet. So, when we encounter a free dating site, we are guarded before we even begin perusing potential partners, keenly awaiting us behind possibly dubious profiles.

Okay, that’s maybe harsh.

To paraphrase even more cliches in the love-seekers handbook, there are exceptions to every online dating rule and you will find the odd diamond or two in the rough.

However, singles dating sites that do not charge a membership or sign-up fee are reliant upon sponsorship and advertising fees alone for their revenue. With a site-owner who has a knack for web-design, this may not be immediately noticeable, front-of-house.

Where you may notice a difference to paid membership sites, however, is in a lack of real-time admin or long-term support. This could range from individual requests being answered to the potentially more dangerous ommission of site-owners corroborating its members dating profiles.

Another important factor to keep in mind, when deciding where to start looking for love on line, is the type of relationship you’re expecting to find. Should you be looking for serious, long-term commitment, perhaps free dating sites aren’t the best place to start.

From the female point of view, if your prospective dating material is unprepared or unable to pay for the priviledge of meeting you, that in itself may raise questions about his calibre, attitude or financial standing. From the male prospective, what self-respecting woman wouldn’t dip into her purse to attract a higher class of gent than the fellow outlined above?

The exception to the rule is if you are completely new to website matchmaking services; in which case, free personals chat-rooms and forums are great places to get the hang of online dating and to get the low-down of the service you’re using.

And again, if you’re only after a casual online relationship, then free sites should suffice. More recently, they have become one of the more fashionable ways to get to know the opposite sex.

In all seriousness, though, if you do arrange to meet up with a member of a free dating site, and you have the slightest suspicion about their online credentials, do suggest that the first few dates are supervised or in close proximation to your regular stomping grounds. If there is nothing malicious about the intentions of your date, they will raise no objections, whatsoever.

Good luck – I hope your diamond doesn’t have too many rough edges!