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... Dating Scams: An introduction Dating Scams: An introduction

3 April 2012

Being a UK based dating site that has been around for a number of years we have seen how scammers work. At Loveandfriends we spend loads of time and effort blocking scammers from our dating sites so they don't get to email our genuine members.

You've probably heard of a "Nigerian 419 scam". This is when some unknown person emails you at random and offers to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account to get the money out of their country. In return they offer you a % of the amount as a fee. It is called a "419" scam after a formerly relevant section of the Criminal Code of Nigeria

A variant on this is the "Lottery scam", when they tell you that you've won something in a lottery. The same people who operate these operate dating scams. This is how they typically work.

The scammer pretends to be looking for love and first sets up as many profiles as possible on as many sites as possible. He/she then engages the affection of their potential victim, often by uploading fake attractive photos.

A typical 419 scammer will often have the fake profile/photo of some very attractive, white, early middle aged professional guy and target middle aged women.. They use the profile to pretend to be a foreign specialist working in Nigeria or typically some other African country e.g. Ghana, Gambia, or Sierra Leone. Usually they claim to be from the US, but it may also be Canada, UK or any other European country.

They target people on dating sites or in chat rooms and are prepared to spend some weeks emailing/chatting online to build up a "relationship". They will often say that they are in love remarkably quickly in an effort to attach the victim to them. Once they think their target is falling for the lies, the scammer will ask for help with some "Urgent" financial need

living expenses due to temporary paycheck problems
have been robbed
cost of a visa or flight
need urgent medical attention or have been in an accident
have some son, daughter or other relative that urgently needs money

They may tell you that their employer pays them with Money Orders, and they can't cash them in Nigeria. They will send you the Money Orders and ask you to deposit them into your bank account and then wire the money to them via Western Union.

Needless to say, those Money Orders are no good, and not even worth the paper they're printed on.

When we say "Nigerian dating scam", it doesn't mean it originates from Nigeria only, though this was the original source and these are still very prevalent there. The scam may also originate from many other West African countries, like Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal etc. It is also the same technique used by "Russian Babe" scams. Needless to say "Russian Babes" aren't restricted to Russia only - Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, etc. are all now involved.

The typical pattern of these does appear to be

Attractive White Middle aged man in Africa on business targeting middle aged UK women
Attractive young Russian girl targeting middle aged UK guys
Attractive US Army officer serving in Iraq/Afghanistan targeting middle aged UK women
Attractive young African girl targeting middle aged UK guys

Where do scammers get their photos ? Most of their photos are taken from modelling sites or copy-pasted from other dating sites.

You should always keep in mind the photos you see on the scammers profiles are not the actual faces of people who are scamming you!

It is very important to understand that you are NOT looking at the photos of the scammers themselves, those are photos of innocent people that scammers use, and in a way those people are victims too. The scammers have many faces: not only do they frequently change names, e-mails and photos, but they may list themselves on different dating sites as being of different gender, race, age, location and sexual orientation.

In future articles we'll cover:

How do I spot a scammer?
The latest things scammers are getting up to
Who falls for dating scammers?
The organised industry of dating scamming