Fraudsters use social media to post phony profiles on line.
Baltimore, Md. (KM). Love is in the air and on the internet as Valentine’s Day approaches. But the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland is warning consumers to be aware of potential on line “lovers” who may not be the person in their profiles.
Jody Thomas, Vice President of Communications and Marketing, says scammers will steal photos and description of other people and build an attractive profile which is placed on platforms like Match.com. They trick their victims into falling in love with someone who doesn’t exist.
Sometimes, they end up taking the victim’s money. Thomas says a man on the Eastern Shore reported in December that he was taken in by a “lover” he met on line. “His experience was he met someone through Match.com. And unfortunately, it was a fake profile. The photograph was not for real. This particular photograph had been used multiple times. The description was fraudulent,” she says.
The victim, in this case, sent money to his “lover,” and ended up losing $10,000 in a romance scam, Thomas says.
The BBB says there are some “red flags” which should tell you this profile is not on the level. One is that they make excuses for not wanting to meet in person for the first time. “They’ll keep coming up with excuses as to why they can’t have a face-to-face meeting,” says Thomas. She says some of those excuses included traveling a lot for work, or saying they’re in the military and are stationed overseas, or they’re an American citizens living in a foreign country.
Another sign is their photos do not match their profiles. “For example, the picture might be a photo of a brunette, whereas in the description it says that ‘I have red hair.’ You kind of see some inconsistencies,” Thomas says.
Other characteristics include a suspicious Facebook profile where the scammer uses the names and photos of real people to create fake profiles on Faceboo. These individuals have few friends and their description has a lot of grammatical errors.
And when that person asks for money. “Certainly, anyone who wants to ask for money, whether it’s banking information, having you send money by wire, wants credit card information; don’t give anything to someone you haven’t met in person,” says Thomas.
If you notice any of these “red flags” regarding a potential on line lover, Thomas says cut off contact with that person immediately. And if you are scammed, report to local law enforcement and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“The Internet, in general, is a great tool. It’s just unfortunate some people decide to use really great services in really bad ways. So you need to look out for yourself,” says Thomas.
By Kevin McManus