By Sonia Isotov
The Hawaii Better Business Bureau is warning users of dating and social networking sites that con artists are using these sites to meet potential victims. While everyone is at risk, seniors are a major target, they say.
“Unfortunately, the anonymity of the internet makes it a perfect place for con artists to hide their real intentions,” said Dwight Kealoha, the chief executive officer of Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau, in a written statement. “They try to lure their victims under the guise of romantic interest.”
Kealoha explained that these con artists create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince seniors to send money in the name of love. The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to help users recognize when the relationship may not be what users think – especially when the user’s “Sweetheart”:
- Wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or telephone.
- Claims love within moments of meeting you online
- Claims to be from the US but is traveling overseas.
- Plans to visit, but is prevented by some sort of emergency or deal gone bad
Here are a few things the Better Business Bureau says that users should not wire money to cover:
- Medical emergencies
- Hotel bills
- Hospital bills for a child or other relative
- Visas or other official documents
Do not send money to tide someone over after a financial setback, and do not do anyone a favor by making an online purchase or forwarding a package to another country. One request leads to another, and delays and disappointments will follow. In the end, the money will be gone along with the person you thought you knew.
Report online relationship scams to: