Valentine’s Day is just a week away and scammers are already scrambling to take advantage of people looking for love. The Better Business Bureau is warning people to beware of scams on free online dating sites.
According to Match.com, one in five single adults have dated someone from an online dating Web site. Forrester Research estimates that with those numbers growing daily, about 10 percent of users on free online dating sites could be fraudsters. The three most popular scams are as follows:
• Scammers pose as attractive singles, build relationships, and then share sob stories about some emergency and ask for money to be wired.
• Prowlers scan these sites looking for personal information in order to commit identity theft.
• Unscrupulous companies and matchmakers that cheat singles out of thousands of dollars and never deliver on their services.
These scam dating sites look legitimate, but you should always check the URL – if you don’t see “https,” it’s not a secured site.
Be choosy, do your research, and make sure it’s a legitimate site. Free Web sites can be dicey. Don’t release your personal information and be careful not to release too much. Never wire money to a potential love interest. If the person on the other end asks for money, it’s a huge red flag.
Law enforcement officials say these scammers are tough to catch. All too often, they operate the sites from overseas, or the sites are set up so that they can be quickly shut down and moved.
If you do meet someone on one of these sites, be cautious. Only meet them face to face in a public place, with friends or on a double date.
And if you do sign a contract with an online dating Web site, check the fine print to be sure you know what’s in your membership, as well as when and what type of fees may be tacked on.