VALENTINE'S DAY: AVOID LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to discuss a common phenomenon in the online dating world – the long-distance love con.
There is not a day that goes by in my office without a phone call from a female having an issue related to an Internet dating site. (We actually get about ten of these calls per week.) The purpose of these calls is that the women want us to verify the men they have been corresponding with are actually who they say they are.
She wants to be sure, for example, that that the person emailing, texting and calling her really is John Smith, divorced accountant, who lives in Lake Forest, Illinois.
My first question is always, “Have you sent him money?” If the answer is “No,” then I’m happy. It means that she initially hasn’t be conned. But I am always prepared for an affirmative answer, which means my next question is “How much?”
I’ve heard everything from a defensive “Just a little,” or “A couple hundred bucks,” all the way up to a worried, “I’ve sent him $180,000″.
When I ask the women what in the world got them to send money, the lines are ridiculous:
- I’d love to come see you; send me a changeable first class ticket from NY to LA because my schedule’s so unpredictable right now.
- My kid needs surgery.
- My brother’s got leukemia.
These are just a few of the hundreds of ways con artists extract money from the many, many women they have on the hook.
I know it’s hard to believe people actually fall for this nonsense, but I assure you that they do, much more often than you’d think.
Predators know where to find prey. If you’re a scammer of elderly people, trying to scare people into sending you money by saying you’re from the IRS or Medicare, what areas are you going to target? Florida, California and Arizona. These are highly dense populations of senior citizens and retirees.
Dating sites are a huge pool of single women putting themselves out there, looking for love, sometimes a little too willing to suspend disbelief and common sense. Pursue a hundred females online, and a few will absolutely fall for your story. It’s nothing more than a numbers game.
I am all for dating and finding love, but I would like to once again urge caution when it comes to any online relationship. Don’t wait until after the fact to investigate, because it’s very difficult to recoup large sums of money and time even with a first-class private investigator helping. Most of it, sadly, has disappeared into places like Russia or Nigeria, lost forever behind endless untraceable fake accounts.
There’s a reason why I get so many calls about long-distance relationships. Let’s say you live in the Chicago area, surely you can at least start by dating people in the state of Illinois, whom you can easily meet in person? Set up some dates with actual people, not whoever might be behind a screen name thousands of miles away.
Resolve to start dating locally, and never send money.
By the way, Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year for private investigators. If your husband is having an affair, it’s a good bet he’s probably going to have to see the other woman on or around Valentine’s Day.
Here’s a video on the subject that we did for a local news segment many years ago:
Thomas G. Martin
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