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In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 (5,300) through online dating sites.He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate.It’s possible that it’s someone looking for an affair on a dating site The Internet seems ecstatic about the Ashley Madison hack, with millions of adulterers' and potential adulterers' details hacked and released online, with articles outing individuals found in the data dump. Even if someone’s profile looks legit, there are other signs to keep an eye out for, especially during the beginning of your communication.For example, scammers will often ask you to communicate with them outside of the dating site—via email, through Facebook, or even on Skype.

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Anyone can be the target and victim of these scams—men, women, young, old, gay, straight, white, black, Asian, Hispanic… But the FBI states that women who are “over 40, divorced, widowed, and/or disabled” are prime targets for scammers.While the British scammer mentioned in the introduction to this article met his victims in person, most scammers will avoid face-to-face meetings at all costs.Even if they say they live near you, they’ll say they’re out of town and won’t be able to meet. However, repeated excuses at the last minute are a definite warning sign.These methods give them better access to you and can help them gather additional information that they can use to con you.Don’t fall for it: there’s nothing wrong with staying in touch via the dating site.Of course, just because someone is younger doesn’t mean that they’re a scammer; it’s just something to keep in mind.Scammers also often list themselves as widowed (especially with a child), self-employed, or working overseas.If someone sends you a message and says they’d like to get to know you, save a copy of their picture and use Google’s reverse image search to see if anyone has posted about that photo being used for a scam.If that image shows up on other profiles with different names, you should be suspicious. If you receive other photos, and anything seems off, be wary.People are often ashamed to come forward and admit that they’ve been duped.It’s not a good feeling to have been taken advantage of, and a scheme that’s so obvious in hindsight is even harder to admit to. If you date online, take precautions to protect yourself.

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