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Today there are an estimated 25,000 romance scammers online worldwide, according to one cybersecurity expert.Between 5 percent and 25 percent of online daters could be fakes or scammers, says another.Never send money to someone you haven't met in person, and report it if you receive such a request, the statement said.“Those two steps will stop almost every scam in its tracks and help protect the next potential victim.” Sometimes romance scammers zero in on people who are vulnerable due to divorce, abuse or alienation from their children, D’Antuono notes.For example, last December the FBI busted a Chicago-based crime ring that victimized at least 11 people through online romance scams.The alleged cybercrooks met victims through websites and apps, including Match.com, Facebook and Instagram, according to prosecutors.If retired, “they’re not going to work for eight hours a day, so they have a lot more time to take that phone call.” Additionally, some older folks are experiencing cognitive decline, so potentially they are more susceptible, he says. Like many Americans, D’Antuono knows people who became partners after first meeting in cyberspace.Perpetrators, meantime, can feign so much charm you’d think they’d kissed the Blarney Stone, D’Antuono says. But he also knows well that scammers can — and will — do more than steal your heart.
Lauren De Ford, the company’s senior manager of marketing, said scams are rare and that the firm takes fraud “very seriously.” The company’s brands are available in more than 42 languages in more than 190 countries, according to its website.
A Pew Research Center study revealed that nearly 60 percent of U. adults consider online dating a good way to meet people, and Match.com, one of the most popular dating sites, says people 50 and older represent its fastest-growing share of users.
But seeking romantic bliss online can have a major downside: Cyberspace is full of scammers eager to take advantage of lonely hearts.
Older Americans can be targeted because many have a nest egg and time on their hands, he says. They’re criminals.” At the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, senior attorney Patti Poss says the admonition against sending cash to a stranger also applies to wire transfers, prepaid cards and gift cards.
“They could be lonely; they could be by themselves,” D’Antuono says. Inevitably a scammer will seek money for things like a hospital or hotel bill, airfare or visa fees, she says.