Dating site crimes

Before she knew it, her savings were gone. And the man of her dreams? He might not even exist. A short message sent on a Thursday evening in early December , under the subject line: She had contacted him, not the other way around.

That had been a fateful move; it made everything easier for him. So much of this was new. It had been over two years since the death of her husband of 20 years; four, since she had lost her mother.

Two sharp blows that had left her alone in her late 50s. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening. After the funeral , a grief counselor told her to make no sudden changes in her life for at least a year, and she followed that advice. Now she was all by herself in a house secluded at the end of a long gravel driveway.

Her brothers and their families lived nearby. When it came to meeting new people, however, her choices were limited. Friends urged her to try online dating. And, reluctantly, she did. At first, she just tiptoed around the many dating sites, window-shopping in this peculiar new marketplace.

The choices were overwhelming. She signed up for a six-month subscription to Match. She filled out a questionnaire and carefully crafted her profile. It would have been easy to burnish the truth, but she presented herself honestly, from her age 57 and hobbies "dancing, rock collecting" to her financial status "self sufficient".

The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent. And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner … successful, spiritually minded, intelligent, good sense of humor, enjoys dancing and travelling. In those first weeks, she exchanged messages and a few calls with men, and even met some for coffee or lunch. This seemed to be one of the problems with online dating. She resolved to be pickier, only contacting men who were closely matched — 90 percent or more, as determined by the algorithm pulling the strings behind her online search.

She had a website for her business, was on Facebook, carried a smartphone. But who knew exactly how these online dating services worked? Then she saw this guy, the one with a mysterious profile name — darkandsugarclue. The photo showed a trim, silver-haired man of 61 with a salt-and-pepper beard and Wayfarer-style shades. He liked bluegrass music and lived an hour away. More than a week went by with no answer. Then, this message appeared when she logged on to her account.

Hey you, How are you doing today? I really like your profile and I like what I have gotten to know about you so far. I would love to get to know you as you sound like a very interesting person plus you are beautiful. Tell me more about you. In fact it would be my pleasure if you wrote me at my email as I hardly come on here often. He gave a Yahoo email address and a name, Duane.

Your profile is no longer there — did you pull it? As I am recalling the information you shared intrigued me. I would like to know more about you. Please email me with information about yourself and pictures so I can get to know you better.

Duane wrote right back, a long message that sketched a peripatetic life — he described himself as a "computer systems analyst" from North Hollywood, California, who grew up in Manchester, England, and had lived in Virginia for only five months.

The restaurant is a white painted weatherboard, simple but well-kept, set on the edge of a lake, separated from it by an expansive deck, dotted not packed with tables and comfortable chairs….

And she was full of questions, about him and about online dating in general. I think it is always best to be whom we are and not mislead others. Duane suggested they both fill out questionnaires listing not only their favorite foods and hobbies but also personality quirks and financial status. Then she rolled it back and listened to it again. An impostor poses as a suitor, lures the victim into a romance, then loots his or her finances. In pre-digital times, romance scammers found their prey in the back pages of magazines, where fake personal ads snared vulnerable lonely hearts.

But as financial crimes go, the love con was a rare breed, too time- and labor-intensive to carry out in large numbers. It could take months or years of dedicated persuasion to pull off a single sting. Technology has streamlined communication, given scammers powerful new tools of deceit and opened up a vast pool of potential victims. As of December , 1 in 10 American adults had used services such as Match. But the online-dating boom has also fueled an invisible epidemic.

According to the Federal Trade Commission FTC , complaints about impostor ploys such as the romance scam more than doubled between and And that figure is probably low, because many victims never report the crime — or even tell their closest friends and family members that it occurred.

When Amy talks about how she fell in love, she always mentions his voice. It was mesmerizing — musical, clipped, flecked with endearing Britishisms. His writing was like this, too — not just the British-style spellings of words such as "colour" and "favourite," but the way he dropped "sweetie" and "my dear" into every other sentence.

They exchanged numbers and began talking every day. They spoke of the things you talk about at the beginning of a relationship — hopes, dreams, plans for the future. She opened up about her marriage, her grief, her work, her faith and her conviction that things happened for a reason. Amy had never met a man who was so passionately curious about her. And she was just as fascinated by Duane. Or was it Dwayne? In his early emails, the spelling seemed to switch.

She found his LinkedIn profile — it was short, with just a few connections. There were other curiosities. Amy felt they were in some kind of time warp. He traveled a lot for his work, he said. Almost casually, he explained he was calling not from Virginia but from Malaysia, where he was finishing up a computer job. Amy knew all about those people who posed as Nigerian bankers and gulled victims with awkwardly phrased "business opportunities" over spam email. But this was different; Amy loved to travel and knew lots of people from overseas.

The fact that Dwayne was living in Malaysia added an exotic note to his "eau de enigma. A former "Yahoo boy" shows how teams of con artists fleece victims from Internet cafes. Enitan is not the scammer Amy encountered in ; his fraud career ended in , he says. But based on his account, the fraud playbook he followed has not changed. He agreed to talk on the condition that he would not be identified by name.

Sent first as printed letters, then as faxes and emails purporting to be from Nigerian officials, these offers are now part of Internet lore.

Impostor scams can flourish wherever the Internet exists Eastern Europe and Russia are also hot spots , but most dating fraud originates in Nigeria and Ghana, or in countries such as Malaysia and the U. In fast-developing parts of the world with high unemployment, a large percentage of English-speaking young men, and a postcolonial legacy of political instability and corruption, playing the game can be a tempting way out.

He learned the con from an older mentor, and he, in turn, passed on his skills to younger friends. Enitan describes a three-stage model. Using stolen credit card numbers, the scammer would flood dating sites with fake profiles. Victims can be found anywhere — scammers also forage for connections on social media — but dating services provide the most fertile territory. Profile photos are pirated from social media or other dating sites.

For male victims, he just needed a photo of an alluring younger woman: All his victims, Enitan says, described themselves as divorced or widowed.

After learning everything he can about his target, he would launch a campaign of love notes and gifts. It feels like the universe is manifesting my perfect partner right before my very eyes. Prayers answered and yes it does seem like we have known each other a long time. They were on the phone for hours every day at this point. His was the first voice she heard in the morning, and the last before bed. Typically, Amy would talk and text with him until about 11 a. In their emails, they filled pages with minutiae about their lives — her upcoming holiday trip to Sarasota, Florida, with a girlfriend; his visit to a textile museum in Kuala Lumpur.

Last night, in my dreams, I saw you on the pier.


Here are 16 scary statistics of online dating to put the world of online dating into perspective when it comes to the reality of the person behind that . Police investigating suspected dating site killer’s claims of up to 7 murders. By Meghan Keneally, Close 27, being involved in additional .

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