Looking for love in all the wrong places can cost you.
So can looking for love on online dating sites. That’s because you might open your heart, and then your wallet, to the wrong people.
The UK’s City of London Police this week released statistics that boggle the heart. They say a case of online dating fraud happens every three hours.
Of course, it’s likely worse than that. These are only the cases that have been reported. How many people are simply too embarrassed to have been taken for a fool by a heartless scammer?
The process seems to be familiar but never-ending. The request for money from a new-found online lover comes, the police say, within the first month on average. It might be via email or even on the phone, as the person looking for love is only too open to increased closeness, as is the person looking for money.
The average age of the victim is 49. Of those who declared their sex, 61 percent of the victims were female and 66 percent of the scammers were male, according to BBC News.
FBI figures show the most common targets in the US are women who are over 40 and are divorced, widowed and/or disabled.
The average amount lost in the UK? 10,000 British pounds (around $12,460).
These tales, though, can reach extremely painful levels. Three years ago, a 66-year-old Californian woman gave $500,000 to her mendacious online lover. And this was on a Christian dating site.
These people have no heart, no scruples and no interest in anything but your money.
The City of London Police offer all sorts of tips — from checking whether the potential lover is really who they say they are to never sending any money to someone you’ve met online. The FBI warns against those who have profile pictures that are a little too good to be true, profess instant feelings of love or claim to be from the US but are traveling or working overseas.
Perhaps, though, there is an even simpler lesson, one that comes from the offline world too. If someone you’ve only just met — even if it’s a month ago or more — starts tapping you for money, leave.
This article was originally published at Cnet