Just like the Nigerian Internet scams have evolved over the years, so have the love scams. As the song says, you're looking for love in all the wrong places," and the Internet is surely one of the worst places to find your true love.
"Too good to be true" is the way some men or women describe the seemingly perfect match that somehow found them on the Internet, someone who moved quickly from idle conversation to expressions of eternal love, with a catch that is. The catch: money. (Remember the Beatles told us that "money can't buy you love," and those four British philosophers from the 1960's were right!)
The current evolution of this ongoing scam involves fake members of the US military that reach out across the Internet and into the homes and hearts of people looking to help and, in some cases, looking for love. The fake member of the military uses a photo of an actual serviceman with fraudulent background and residence information as part of the scam. After making contact with the prospective "mark," the fake soldier, sailor or marine quickly builds to the point of expressing their admiration and love for their new victim, indicating they have an urgent need for money to buy a cell phone to call the "mark," or for a special computer to Skype from, or for some needed fee to travel home to see their new love. In one case the fraudulent soldier told his latest victim that she needed to send him $350 so they could talk by phone, providing her with a form to complete so he could put her on his call list, a form that sought the new victim's personal information, to include her social security number - an obvious identity scam that has victimized hundreds while costing them tens of thousands of dollars, in one case $25,000 in fraudulent transactions.
Many of these scammers work outside of the U.S., sometimes from Russia, Nigeria, or the Philippines, this by use of untraceable e-mail accounts with messages sent from Internet cafes. In some cases the photos of the professed military members were simply lifted from their own or a relative's face book account. Some scammers will ask you to cash fraudulent checks for them or will make purchases with stolen credit cards, send these items to the victim, asking the victim to forward them to yet another address, usually overseas - an ongoing fraud.
While most would like to befriend a service man or woman, and, perhaps, find a special friend or love interest at the same time, be careful of offers of quick friendship or love as both could well be a scammer ensnaring his victim. Like any other Internet scam, if the person quickly moves you to send them money for any reason, it is likely someone attempting to separate you from your money in any way they can. Always seek to independently verify a person's identity and background by some means other than their own statements, and never send money or accept gifts or "pass through purchases" from a stranger, i.e., someone you do not personally know, and never send money via Western Union - a way to transfer money without a audit trail. And for men, don't send money to a dating agency to coordinate your new Internet Russian girlfriend's travel to the USA. She's not coming!
For more information concerning personal and family safety and security, to obtain a free copy of our DVD "Protecting Children from Predators," and to find out the identity and location of sex offenders in your community, go to www.LiveSecure.org.