How to prove and fight online dating and romance scams

Friends and family of romance scam victims sometimes call on security pros to prove their online loves are not who they claim to be. Here's how to handle the case the right way.

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Report any monetary losses to authorities - Law enforcement will not do anything to get the victim’s money back unless the loss was hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Even then, they probably can’t get the money back. Still, it can’t hurt to report the scam and resulting losses to federal authorities (e.g., FBI or FCC), just to make sure there is an official record of the loss. Plus, it lets the authorities stay up on the amount and type of crime.

What not to do once you prove a date scam

Don’t communicate further with the scammer - There is no use in arguing with scammers. They will never come clean. They will continue to claim they are real and plead with fake crocodile tears that the victim is doing the wrong thing. If they are finally convinced the victim will not send money, they will simply end further communications or harass the victim a bit further and then end further communications. Take the high road. There is nothing to be gained by further confronting these types of people.

Don’t try to locate scammers - I’ve heard of a few victims that learned enough real information that they wanted to confront the scammer in person, in the scammer’s country of origin. This is a very bad idea! Of the few that I know about, the outcome wasn’t good. At least a few victims have been apparently murdered. There is nothing good going to happen by traveling to the scammer’s country where the victim has no citizen rights or protection. Victims should take their losses and lessons and keep their life.

Don’t shame the victim - Lastly, don’t shame the victim. I’ve been doing computer security for over 30 years, and I’ve learned that falling victim to a scam is not an IQ test. The brightest, smartest, richest people on our planet have been duped by dating scams. Just search on “dating scam lost million dollars” to see the long list of millionaires that have lost money to fake paramours. The duped have included scientists, Fortune 500 businessmen, doctors, lawyers, and people of all ages.

Once you prove to your family member or loved one that they’ve been scammed, they will be embarrassed enough. Give them a hug, and maybe help them find real love, because that person is out there for them as well if they look in the right places.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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