Dating is supposed to be romantic, but not when the FBI gets involved.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a public service announcement saying that dating fraud has become rampant.
They warn of “money mules,” which is a person who dupes a victim into a trusting relationship, then steals their information or convinces them to give them money, goods, or sensitive financial information.
The thieves also target electronics, like laptops, and expensive jewelry.
The crooks are using online dating sites to pose as U.S. citizens abroad, U.S. military members deployed overseas, or American business owners with big bank accounts. In reality, they are none of the above.
The bureau says that in 2017 more than 15,000 people filed complaints with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center saying they were victims of confidence/romance fraud. In 2018, more than 18,000 people filed as victims of this type of crime. Their combined losses totaled more than $362 million.
The FBI warned that, beware, the cyber criminals do not use their own photos.
“A reverse image search can determine if a profile picture is being used elsewhere on the internet, and on which websites it was used. A search sometimes provides information that links the image with other scams or victims,” the bureau said.
And without criminal background checks it’s easy to make up a false story about yourself. The FBI warned that red flags include immediate requests to talk or chat on email or a messaging service outside of the dating site, and using words like “destiny” or “fate” very early on.
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