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Like others who have been tricked by financial swindlers, Ms.
Cook was won over by her suitor’s constant attention.
The AARP network recommends that from the beginning, dating site members use Google’s “search by image” to see if the suitor’s picture appears on other sites with different names.
If an email from “a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites,” the network advised.
After contacting a possible victim, the swindler tries to avoid detection on the dating site by insisting that communications shift to email, telephone or instant message.
Typically, the Internet swindler says he speaks English because he has lived in Europe or the United States and is working as a contractor or builder in Malaysia or another country where he encounters trouble with local authorities.
Cook, now 76, who was swept off her feet starting in July 2011 by attention from a man who called himself Kelvin Wells and described himself as a middle-aged German businessman looking for someone “confident” and “outspoken” to travel with him to places like Italy, his “dream destination.”But very soon he began describing various troubles, including being hospitalized in Ghana, where he had gone on business, and asking Ms. In all, she sent him nearly 0,000, as he apparently followed a well-honed script that online criminals use to bilk members of dating sites out of tens of millions of dollars a year.
Davies that he had been robbed by a man on a bicycle and asked her to send him money.“I debated for a long time, but I wanted to help him,” she said.
“Then his project had a problem, and he needed ,000, and then immigration officials in Singapore stopped him on his way to visit me for Christmas, and he needed ,000.”“He even sent me his flight itinerary to Atlanta for Christmas.
Victims who are looking for romance but find online criminals instead should alert authorities, he said.“It’s imperative for someone who thinks they have been scammed to move quickly and notify the bank and law enforcement authorities,” he said. Despite warnings, the digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP’s Fraud Watch Network in June urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud.
Even so, he admitted, “The chances are not great of seeing that money again.”While some swindlers are local, others are part of international crime rings and are more difficult to track, although, Mr. The safeguards it suggests include using computer algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns, searching for fake profiles, alerting members who have been in contact with someone using a fake profile and providing more education so members are aware of romance cons.