It can happen like this: “Maria” signed up for an online dating service and was contacted by “Andrew,” who claimed to be an American overseas on business in Australia.Maria and Andrew seemed to hit it off and began planning a road trip for that summer when Andrew would come back to the U. Andrew sent Maria a check for ,000 to cover the cost of their trip, but then suddenly asked her to send ,500 back to him because he needed money for rent after being laid off from his job.This makes it hard for the victim to do due diligence.
Scroll down for video Experts at Scamalytics, who provide anti-scammer software to dating sites, sift through millions of fake profiles every year.“That big investment gives victims a false sense that the relationship must be real.” Eventually a pitch for money comes.Often the scammer will say an emergency situation has arisen and money is needed fast to avoid dire consequences.In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 (5,300) through online dating sites.He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate.(It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their losses to law enforcement, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can't get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs romancescams.org, a watchdog site and online support group.