Online dating fraud

Online dating fraud is more common than you think.

One of Our Graham’s favourite online experts, Willard Foxton over at the Daily Telegraph, has written a great piece here about the dangers of finding love on the internet.

It seems that it could be that 10 per cent of profiles online are, in fact, fake. Foxton speaks to a wealthy woman who nearly lost £50,000 to a fraudster. He claimed his boat had grounded and he needed bailing out. She had been flirting with him online for just a few weeks.

Luckily she was savvy and decided to test him by offering him a smaller about to see if he would take. She figured that if he was genuine he would need the full amount. Unsurprisingly he jumped at her initial offer before getting nasty when he realized he was sussed.

In the US, even the FBI have sent out warnings to users of online dating websites. They put out a press release on Valentine’s Day explaining the risks. They have found that women over 40 are the most often targetted – women just like Debbie Best, a 51 year-old American who thought she had found love with a man she thought was a handsome antiques dealer. Like the woman Foxton spoke to, Debbie Best’s online amour claimed to be stuck abroad in need of money. Unfortunately Debbie decided to try and help him. You can read more of her story here.

Another good lesson from Debbie’s story is that online dating sites will not necessarily back you up if you are subject to a scam. Mingle2.com – the site Debbie used – refused to comment when the Huffington Post reported it in October 2012. There is no insurance for this kind of thing.

If you are worried about how to stay safe online, Our Graham has tracked down a five websites for good tips and advice:

1) Get Safe Online – the UK’s leading online safety agency. They have specific advice for keeping yourself safe while online dating 

2) The big beast Google offer some tips here

3) The Internet Safety Project comes from a University in Utah and offers 11 pointers to safe online dating

4) The BBC WebWise page is worth a look for some well-presented, if basic, advice.

5) Online dating Goliath’s OK Cupid have, as you might expect, a good page on staying safe online.

Finally, remember this is an ongoing problem. Back in November we wrote about a scam involving Global Personals. You can find out more about it on the Channel 4 documentary page.

If you have any more concerns send us an e-mail to ourgrahamlondon@gmail.com, tweet or facebook us. Remember we have an Ask Graham advice page ready to be filled with your online dating worries.

After all, as the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

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