Online dating scams target older Americans' finances - CBS News

3 On Your Side: Online Dating Scams Often Target Seniors

online dating scams seniors

I am also being scammed, this gentleman professed his love right away, says his parents both died in car accident, that was also but survived, says he has been in the Army for 26 years and getting ready to retire only has 2 months left on his deployment. But this was different; Amy loved to travel and knew lots of people from overseas. Some of the most aggressive efforts to track down scammers have come from Australia.

In-person dating safety for seniors

Freshly roasted and brewed coffee is hitting all the senses out of a storefront in Bucks County. And, as Amy discovered, victims in the U. The power of the romance scam — its ability to operate undetected and to beguile its victim into a kind of partnership — lies here, in the gulf between what the victim believes and what is actually happening. She tried to tamp down the pinpricks of panic. What is your favourite movie? I love my country. Posted on Aug at 8:

Accounts are routed through numerous locations utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes, which makes finding the crook and getting money back difficult, if not impossible. We're living in an interconnected world.

We've gone from surfing the Internet at our desk at home to connecting with friends through social media on the go, using a growing array of mobile devices. All this technology may make us more productive and plugged-in, but it may also be leading us astray, making it easier to cheat on a spouse or partner — and it makes us more subject to betrayal. Let's start with Facebook.

The social networking site, with nearly a billion members, allows us to keep up with what our friends are doing. But it has also put us in touch with old friends from our past and provided a seemingly private, back-channel way to communicate with them. According to Divorce Online , social media has become a factor in one in three divorces in the UK. The site says what people post not only causes marital friction but can be used as evidence in a divorce trial.

While there are no hard numbers to confirm this, it can be safely assumed that all that chatting, flirting and interacting online can sow the seeds of an affair, a virtual one at first but perhaps later, the real thing. Social media and technological advancements have put temptation at our fingertips, and this is demonstrated by the meteoric rise in extra-marital encounters.

Which brings us to online dating. When married people go to a dating website and post a phony bio in hopes to starting a relationship, it is usually a recipe for disaster. A spouse hoping to meet someone for a romantic affair can do so from the privacy of his or her computer, though sometimes a misdirected email can be their undoing.

In ConsumerAffairs received a complaint from a woman who said an online dating site had emailed her husband recommendations for potential dates. Online dating sites can be used to cheat another way. Dating scams abound on most dating websites when one of the parties pretends to be something they are not. Barbara, of Central, S. Then finally, he came home but he needed more money.

I didn't think much about it then; supposedly he was at the airport and had a heart attack and was in the hospital for two weeks. Now, he can't leave. They kept his passport because he couldn't pay the bill. When she went back to the dating site to look for his profile, she said it was gone.

Are fraud and infidelity on the rise because of technology? It seems that way. As the use of social media becomes second nature, individuals may be forgetting its very public nature.

You aren't just sharing private thoughts with online friends. It's more public than you realize. While it is true that some people successfully find good, lasting relationships on online dating sites, it is also true that many end up frustrated and disappointed.

Also, a lot of men use very old pics. Sorry, but any picture older than years is irrelevant. Not that people are dishonest when they use an online dating site but there's a disconnect -- what they say doesn't really match what they truly want.

Kang Zhao, assistant professor of management sciences in UI's College of Business, and UI doctoral student Xi Wang are part of a team that has developed an algorithm for dating sites that uses a person's contact history to recommend partners with whom they may be more romantically compatible. It's similar to the model Netflix uses to recommend movies users might like by tracking their viewing history. Dating sites are taking notice. Zhao says he's had preliminary discussions with two dating services who have expressed interest in learning more about the model.

Since it doesn't rely on profile information, Zhao says it can also be used by other online services that match people, such as a job recruiting or college admissions.

The system was developed with the help of a popular commercial online dating company whose identity is being kept confidential. The research team looked at , initial contacts involving 47, users in two U. Of the users, 28, were men and 19, were women, and men made 80 percent of the initial contacts.

To improve that results, Zhao's team developed a model combining two factors to recommend contacts: Zhao believes those two factors, taste and attractiveness, do a better job of predicting successful connections than relying on information that clients enter into their profile, because what people put in their profile may not always be what they're really interested in.

And from Rochelle's observation, they could also be intentionally misleading. Zhao goes a step further, suggesting the average user of an online dating site might not really know themselves well enough to know their own tastes in the opposite sex.

A man who says on his profile that he likes tall women may in fact be approaching mostly short women, even though the dating website will continue to recommend tall women. Another way of saying, actions speak louder than words. Zhao says that eventually, the algorithm will notice that while a client says he likes tall women, he keeps asking out short women, and will change its recommendations to start suggesting that he contact short women.

As Christmas turns into New Year's and then Valentine's Day, many single people's thoughts turn to finding love. And an increasing amount of people turn to online dating websites for help in finding their perfect match. The Federal Trade Commission warns Americans to tread carefully when entering the sometimes-murky waters of online dating, where the promise of love dupes many people into opening their wallets or giving access to bank accounts or credit cards.

The scam artist creates a fake profile, gains the trust of an online love interest, and then asks that person to wire money -- usually to a location outside the United States.

When he started calling her and asking for money, Weston knew something was up. After some quick investigating, Weston discovered the man was calling from Nigeria, not the U. She cut off communication with him. After two weeks in Nigeria, he called me for money and said he couldn't cash his checks there. I told him to go to an international bank and stop calling me. Marana says the man harassed her with phone calls for three weeks until she gave in and sent him more money.

Scammers will oftentimes ask for money to be wired to them via Western Union or Moneygram. The FTC warns consumers that wiring money to someone they haven't met is the same as sending cash. Once it's gone, it can't be recovered. OnGuardOnline provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

More problems for Match. This time it's a Hollywood executive, identified only as Jane Doe, who says a man she met through Match sexually assaulted her. She has filed suit seeking an injunction to bar the dating site from signing up any more members until it can accurately screen them for sexual predators. It's just the latest in a series of suits and complaints from consumers who had experiences on Match. In February, a class action suit in San Francisco claimed Match. The San Francisco suit claims that many of the photos attached to profiles on Match.

Doe said in the suit that after her date attacked her, she went online and learned he had six convictions for sexual battery. In its Terms of Use, Match. Her attorneys would be expected to argue that the limitations do not extend to negligence. Doe also alleges that Match. On the other hand, Match. If Jane Doe, for example, had checked her date's background before she went out with him, instead of afterwards, the alleged injury would presumably have been avoided. Doe has said that she did not know her date's last name when she agreed to go out with him.

However, read far enough through her complaint and one discovers that the alleged rape occurred on the second date she had with the gentleman in question.

The law is still evolving in this area. An Ohio federal judge upheld a waiver of liability provision in the case of a man who sued an online adult dating service for failing to verify that all its members were over the age of District Judge Jack Zouhary said in a case.

Markin, a Harvard graduate and sometime screenwriter files suit against Match. An Associated Press report says Match. Markin's claim against Match. The alleged assault occurred in Markin's home on her second date; and.

Markin alleges in her suit that after the assault, she found her alleged assailant's criminal record by checking Internet databases, an action that more appropriately might have been taken prior to that critical second date, the legal observers noted.

While Markin may have been unprepared initially, she is now well represented by Hollywood publicists who are papering the Internet and fax machines nationwide with press releases congratulating her for taking a stand. I faced many naysayers, but I believed that Match.

She said the lawsuit will remain open until Match. While most complaints to ConsumerAffairs. Kimberly, of Laguna Beach, Calif. Last week, attorney Mark Webb told a news conference in Los Angeles that he had filed a civil action against Match.

Webb said his client was brutally sexually assaulted by another Match. Felony charges are currently pending against the man in Los Angeles Superior Court. California is strengthening consumer protections for users of online dating sites, including the requirement that sites checking subscribers against national sex offender registries. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said three of the nation's leading online dating providers have issued a joint statement of business principles that online dating providers should follow to help protect members from identity theft, financial scams and sexual predators.

The agreement between the Attorney General and online dating providers eHarmony , Match. The websites also agreed to educate members about safe online dating practices, and will supply members with online safety tips, including fraud prevention guidance and tips for safely meeting people offline. These tips and financial scam warnings will be issued on an ongoing basis to registered members.

It is a priority for this office to ensure consumers are protected online, and companies who are creating in the Internet space have a continued opportunity to innovate and thrive," Harris said.

Providers will continue their efforts to screen members for safety threats, whether financial or physical, using a number of protective tools, including looking for fake profiles and checking sex offender registries to prevent registered sex offenders from using their fee-based services.

Any member who is identified as a registered sex offender will not be allowed to use these services. This agreement reflects best practices that these industry leaders are following. A bill in the Illinois legislature would require online dating services to learn more about their members than their favorite colors and pet peeves.

For instance, do they have a criminal record? Illinois State Representative John Bradley says currently a death row inmate, an identity thief, or a con artist could be signed up for any of the online dating services and potential partners wouldn't have a clue. Bradley's bill would require any online dating service with members in Illinois to disclose on their Web sites whether they have conducted background checks on members. Bradley's legislation, which was approved by the committee and sent to the full House for consideration, is designed to give dating service customers more information about the people they may go out with.

For starters, if someone has a criminal record, that would have to be noted online. Online dating services that did not want to abide by the new rule would be forced to exclude all Illinois residents from membership. Jonathan Hood is a New York City attorney who practices Sean McGinn, of Brooklyn, NY, alleges that this practice caused him "humiliation and disappointment" when he tried to contact non-subscribing members and never heard back from them.

McGinn apparently took this to mean that his efforts had failed, when in fact his romantic interests were unable to read, let alone reply to, his messages without subscribing or re-activating an expired account. According to McGinn, the user agreement he signed when he created his account never warned him that not every profile is that of a bona fide member.

McGinn asserts that Match. McGinn, already uncomfortable with dating, has been further traumatized by his online experience. The suit alleges counts under deceptive trade practices; fraud; negligent misrepresentation; and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which describes a vendor's promise not to break its word or deny terms that were obviously implied or read into the contract.

This isn't the first time that Match. In November , Matthew Evans of Los Angeles accused the site of creating fake profiles and sending him "winks" from non-existent members to lure him into renewing his subscription.

That suit was dismissed in Earlier this year, Match. The suit stemmed from an earlier action citing eHarmony's refusal to add "man seeking man" or "woman seeking woman" to its menu of choices.

The latest claim accuses eHarmony of employing a "separate but equal" approach by creating an entirely new site — CompatiblePartners. Online dating has become enormously popular over the past few years.

It is estimated that over 20 million people visit an online dating service every month, and in , fully 31 percent of Americans said they knew someone who had used an online dating service. McGinn apparently took this to mean that his efforts had failed, when in fact his romantic interests wer A woman in Indiana learned that the hard w Links Views Date Comments Likes. Consumers rate eHarmony Love. Instead of men searching for the right verbal approach, And therein lies the problem, a class action lawsuit c While some people find happiness with an online romance, many more do not.

Just a few tweaks? Las Vegas Police We hear from lots of consumers who say their Match. Inadequate warnings Beckman's suit argues that Match. This is about a sick, twisted individual with no prior criminal record, not an entire community of men and women looking to meet each other. Audries, England, had a similar experience with the same man. Class Action Calls Match.

Sometimes, there are more subtle tell-tale clues. You met him on the Internet? Safety tips Here are a few tips to help you stay safe: Do not wire money to someone you have not met in person.

Be wary of warp-speed proclamations of love, particularly if they are accompanied by pleas for cash. Be suspicious if you never get to actually speak with the person on the phone or are told they will not receive letters in the mail. Do not send money or ship property to a third party or company, especially to parties or companies in an African country.

If you think you have been scammed by an individual claiming to be a member of the U. Seeds of an affair While there are no hard numbers to confirm this, it can be safely assumed that all that chatting, flirting and interacting online can sow the seeds of an affair, a virtual one at first but perhaps later, the real thing.

So, be careful what you write on your wall! The social networking site, with nearly a billion At the most basic level, getting anyone to even notice a complaint about a single user is extremely difficult.

An emailed complaint to a dating website is mixed in with thousands of other emails, most of them spam. Filters that look for specific words may snag a few but many of these emails will go unread. Likewise, complaints to police departments accomplish little since local law enforcement agencies lack the resources to go after bandits operating outside their jurisdiction and, in many cases, outside the country.

They said they get several calls a day about this kind of thing just in my city of , Can you please recommend an attorney that would help me recover my losses because of this crime? The obvious problem with this approach is that most dating site scammers are overseas and beyond the reach of U.

Even if they were not, private legal action would be prohibitively expensive, greatly exceeding the victims' losses. Class action suits against dating sites are not likely to produce large settlements for individual victims. That's simply not how class actions work. In the unlikely event that such a suit succeeded, the payout to individuals would be unlikely to amount to more than a token.

Simply put, the scale of the problem is huge but the perpetrators are mostly individuals or, at the most, small groups. It's like trying to enforce speed limits -- so many people break the law that they overwhelm enforcement efforts. Add in the overseas element and the situation becomes even more challenging.

The one agency that tries to track down and prosecute cyber criminals is the FBI. Its Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3 is the best place for consumers to file complaints but no one should hope for immediate action, since there's also the little problem of organized attacks on government computer systems that tends to take precedence over individual complaints. Of course, posting reviews on sites like ours helps alert others to the danger but, all too often, consumers don't look at reviews until after they've made a purchase or sent their life's savings to a scam artist.

There is, of course, a fool-proof means of prevention, and it's the same one that used to be preached at today's seniors when they were younger: It's a lot easier to prevent unwanted consequences than to reverse them. Want to meet like-minded people?

Volunteer to stuff envelopes and work the phone banks for your favorite politicians. You'll meet like-minded people, real ones. Theology aside, organized religions serve an important social purpose. Pick one whose climate approximates your own and dive in. For those of little faith, non-doctrinal denominations like the Unitarian Universalists offer just about everything except dogma. You can work with the poor, with children, with recent immigrants, with the disabled, with other seniors or with animals.

There are hundreds of non-profit and government agencies looking for volunteers. You may be a retired rocket scientist but that doesn't mean you can't work at Walmart a few days a week. Or drive for Uber, for that matter. Above all, remember -- as our Jennifer Abel frequently says -- you can't fall in love with someone you've never met.

Turn it off and walk away. It works everytime, no matter what your operating system may be.

Imsges: online dating scams seniors

online dating scams seniors

The year-old Las Vegas woman is suing Match. But that's not always a good thing. Just looking for confirmation that I have been scammed.

online dating scams seniors

Find yourself, join a group involved in an interesting hobby, volunteer, or help the less fortunate. But, remember the language thing — you can get English translated to any language via Google, but ask them to respond quickly especially if they are texting or emailing in real time.

online dating scams seniors

At the core of every romance scam is the relationship itself, a fiction so improbable that most of us initially marvel in disbelief: A former reporter and bureau chief for broadcast outlets and The PositiveSingles site promised a free -- and "fully anonymous" -- profile in a " percent dating a girl in your social circle and comfortable community," according to the complaint. I went online dating scams seniors the Indian Matrimonial Site, Shadia. Now he says he wants to break the contract and come home. Sadly, no replies received, profiles have dried up, have asked for my money back but no one responds to my online dating scams seniors. Heck, go back to school!!