Online Dating Could Be a Trap, Most of the Time

Online Dating Could Be a Trap, Most of the Time - Sakshi Post

It is that time of the year when dating websites and apps are on high demand. The possible reason behind this surge could be New Year’s resolution to find their soul mate, urge to involve in one night stands or to find a friend with benefits.

People’s desire to find their companion for a fling or a serious relationship makes them vulnerable to the 21st century’s biggest crime- online dating scam. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), $200 million was extorted from victims of all ages and orientations.

"The drive to find a preferred mate is extremely powerful. It's a reflexive urge, like hunger and thirst, which can cloud judgment and make people less likely to question the motives of an online match." said Lucy Brown, a clinical professor of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who studies the brain activity of people in love.

This online dating scam starts with frauds creating fake profiles with attractive pictures on popular dating websites like Match.com, OkCupid eHarmony , Grindr and Tinder. This lures victims to start a conversations with them and after few days or months when victim get attached to the frauds due to intimate conversations via email, text or Skype, the demand for money comes into picture.

"I don't think there is a general understanding of how much of this romance scam stuff is out here, how it works and what the consequences are. It's staggering how many people fall for it. It's common for victims to become money mules where they are unwittingly helping facilitate other crimes," said Steven Baker of the Federal Trade Commission.

Sometimes, the crime goes to an extent of requesting victims to send explicit photos and videos. Later, the victim is threatened saying their pictures will be uploaded on social media websites if they fail to pay the demanded money. There are even reports of online recruiting of youths to join the Islamic State using romance and marriage as enticements.

In the past two years, many cases were reported by FTC, FBI, homeland security, state department and US army criminal investigation. Average financial losses are $5,000 to $10,000, but the FBI says many victims have lost more than $400,000. And these are just losses that were reported.

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