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On-line dating scams and how to report them, featured in MoneyWatch

Featured in MoneyWatch

Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them. All his victims, Enitan says, described themselves as divorced or widowed. First, he was traveling through India with his daughter. More than a week went by with no answer. Looking at the numbers, the figure seemed unreal.

Her hope was that she'd be able to lure him into giving up something incriminating. Not exactly how much, perhaps. She'd grown up here, in a conservative pocket of Virginia. Something about being held up by immigration at the airport in Kuala Lumpur and needing money to bribe the officials. And, reluctantly, she did.

Amy had never met a man who was so passionately curious about her. His was the first voice she heard in the morning, and the last before bed. Morrison says she realizes that photos posted by her one-time suitor were also fakes. Finally, Dwayne set a day for his flight home and emailed his itinerary.

Enitan describes a three-stage model. They attempt to turn the tables and lead scammers on with promises of future riches. Something must have gone wrong.

Still others work the late phases of the scam, impersonating bank officials or law enforcement in an effort to con victims who are trying to get their money back. It could take months or years of dedicated persuasion to pull off a single sting. Dwayne finally contacted Amy three days later. His cancer took him swiftly, before she had time to process what was happening. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Kipps says her worst experience was with a man who claimed to be a widower raising his five-year-old daughter. The crook will then lavish you with attention and flattery. One by one, she started feeding the photos Dwayne had sent her into Google's image search, trying to trace where else they might have come from. If you agree to meet a prospective partner in person, tell family and friends where you are going.

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In Australia, Hay has found that face-to-face victim support groups are helpful. He had to fly to Beijing, then Chicago, and finally connect to Virginia. He knew that her mother and husband had recently died. Be wary of requests for money. And she was just as fascinated by Duane.

Their messages are often poorly written, vague and escalate quickly from introduction to love. But the call went to her home landline, not the mobile phone she'd been using. You know me better than that. He liked bluegrass music and lived an hour away.

Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material. These people tended to describe themselves as romantics and risk takers, believers in fate and destiny. Then, when the day finally came, Amy's phone remained silent, despite her efforts to get in touch.

So, if there was any way Amy could help him out, he'd pay her back when he returned to the States. Amy watched in growing horror. She found the neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur that he said he lived in, and she prowled its streets using the Street View feature on Google Maps, looking for some landmark he might have mentioned. Amy felt they were in some kind of time warp.

The choices were overwhelming. Since he left scamming, he's spoken out against the practice. But he couldn't use his funds to cover the customs fees. Think romance fraud on an industrial scale. Duane suggested they both fill out questionnaires listing not only their favorite foods and hobbies but also personality quirks and financial status.

Many, like Amy, were survivors of abusive relationships. They're also likely to target people with weight problems and those recovering from illnesses. When Amy talks about how she fell in love, she always mentions his voice. But that week, it all came apart.

But this was different, a kind of manic euphoria. He traveled a lot for his work, he said. She didn't really understand how it worked.

Sometimes, he'd still call her in the middle of the night, and she'd hear that familiar voice for a few moments. An impostor poses as a suitor, lures the victim into a romance, then loots his or her finances.

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She's often surprised at what she finds. As I am recalling the information you shared intrigued me. To snare women, he'd pose as older men, financially secure and often in the military or in engineering professions. It is rare to recover money sent this way. Florid passages like that did not spring from Dwayne's imagination.

Then she rolled it back and listened to it again. Of course, real people sometimes have nice things and go to great places, but these visual cues are key to scammers who want to get your guard down for their future bid for cash. Suddenly, she wasn't tied up for hours every day.

To be sure, these scams aren't new. This helps us to warn people about current scams, fabric sample free uk dating monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Photo by Gregg Segal Research has shown that certain personality types are particularly vulnerable to romance scams. If you peruse the archives of Romancescams.

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He'd call her as soon as he got to Chicago. Outside the scam, it's almost impossible to explain such irrational behavior. They will tell you they need your money to cover administrative fees or taxes.

But individuals who frequent them say scams are pervasive. Do your fellow legitimate members a favor and be sure to report abusers. He cribbed them from the Internet. They will invent some reason why they need you to send the goods but this is just a way for them to cover up their criminal activity. Alternatively they may ask you to buy the goods yourself and send them somewhere.