Recently, a couple of Durham residents were promised love and security to only find out they had fallen into the trap of online scammers. Durham police have seen a rise in the number of online dating scams in the past year.
Two Durham residents fell victim to this type of scam during the week of July 19, 2010. Both victims had established relationships with the suspects and believed the suspects could be trusted. The first victim sent thousands of dollars to her online friend through Western Union to Malaysia in order to free-up his inheritance. The second victim sent thousands of dollars to a man in Nigeria to pay for his daughter’s surgery.
Many suspects take the time to establish a relationship with the victim in order for them to gain their trust. When they feel they have reached this level of trust, the suspect will begin to ask for money or for the victim’s personal information. Specific online dating sites are not the only target for scammers. Online daters need to be cautious of all sites where there is access to communication.
If you decide to look for companionship online be cautious and follow these online dating safety tips.
• Be aware that people may not represent themselves truthfully such as their marital status, employment, gender or appearance.
• Do not give your home phone number out because it can be traced. If you do decide to have a phone conversation, block your number or use a public phone.
• On your online profile do not include personal information such as your address, email, phone number or where you work.
• Never give financial information out.
• Never send money to someone you have met online.
• Save your online conversations.
• Be cautious of someone who pressures you to give personal information or to meet up right away.
• If you decide to meet in person make sure that you tell friends and family members where and when you are going. Meet in a public place.
• Never leave your drink unattended.
• Drive yourself on the date so you are able to leave when you like.
• Never leave or go home with them.
• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Anyone with new information regarding this incident or other investigations is asked to contact a member of the Major Crime Fraud Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5232. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.
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