"LOOK AT PEOPLE FOR WHAT THEY REALLY ARE
NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE THEY ARE
NOT WHAT YOU WISH THEM TO BE"
Searching for love "in all the wrong places." I have conducted numerous online dating investigations, for both male and female clients who have contacted me through this web site and my other web site, on INGENIO. My investigations found that some of the men and women from Africa, Russia and China are very sophisticated with their on line "419 dating love scams". "419'' refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code (part of Chapter 38 obtaining property by false pretenses; Cheating)
Many times it is not the dating site who is perpetrating the fraud. It is some of the men and women who post a profile. With the sole intent of making a living, the perpetrators use other people's loneliness and desperation to their own advantage.
There are many respectable on line dating sites through out the world that have many success stories attached to them. These dating sites work very hard to keep the con artists at bay. But in today's fast paced, high tech world the weapon of choice is not the gun or knife anymore. It is the computer.
A tactic used today is called "catfishing."
What Is a "Catfishing" Scam? A “catfish” is a person who creates a false online identity in the hopes of luring people into romantic relationships. Catfishing is basically an Internet scam or hoax in which someone pretends to be someone else online and nabs an unsuspecting victim. People may go "catfishing" for a variety of reasons.
So is "catfishing" illegal? Well, it depends upon the specific facts of the catfishing scam, and also which state it occurred in. For example, several states like California, Washington, Texas, and New York already make online impersonation a crime, according to AG Beat. So if a teacher pretends to be a student on Facebook, or a fan pretends to be a star athlete on Twitter, then the impersonator could potentially be guilty of a crime. For online impersonation laws like California's to kick in, however, the perpetrator's intent must be to harm, intimidate, threaten, or defraud. California's law also allows a victim to file a civil lawsuit against the scammer if he/she has suffered any economic harm. "Catfishing" may still be illegal when the online fraud is used to perpetuate a crime. For example, if someone "catfishes" to profit off a natural disaster, to seduce young children, or for any other illegal purpose, then that person would obviously be guilty of the underlying crime.
When dating on line and communicating through texts or e-mails pay very close attention to the words, language, phrases and punctuation
the person is using. Many times than not the language the scammer uses does not sound right for someone born and educated in the United States.
My first investigation started when a friend of mine asked if I would investigate an over seas dating web site. He explained to me that a friend of his (whom I will refer to as Mr. W.) spent close to four thousand dollars talking to the woman of his dreams.
This dating web site allowed Mr. W. to post his profile and pictures for free. That was a great deal since many other on line dating web sites want a monthly membership fee ranging anywhere from eighteen to as much as fifty dollars per month, That is automatically billed to your credit card account.
Mr. W. told me that he put up a profile. Within a few days he was receiving e-mails from women who wanted to know more about him. To answer an e-mail from one of these ladies he would have to put money into his account and would be charged for every e-mail he sent. He explained to me that the more money you put into your account or credits purchased, the cheaper the cost of every e-mail you sent or received from the woman you started to communicate with would be. On this dating site, women can send out an e-mail for free. Once you answer her you will then be charged for all e-mails you send and receive.
This dating site would charge about five ($5.00) in US currency for every e-mail sent and received. Every time she sent an e-mail and he responded to her they would deduct a credit, which would cost of about $5.00 per credit from his account. The admirer "you" pays for all of the correspondence sent between you and your love interest. You send an e-mail you are charged a credit. You receive an answer to your e-mail. You are charged a credit.
As you can well imagine this can get very costly in a very short period of time.
The problems started when Mr. W. explained to me that his love interest seemed to misunderstand his e-mails and what he was trying to communicate to her. He was sending four to eight e-mails per day trying to fix the misunderstanding between the two of them. Spending twenty to forty dollars a day in credits, this was going on seven days a week.
When I asked Mr. W. why he did not give her his personal e-mail address or talk to her on messenger, he told me that she did not have a computer at this time and this was the only way she could communicate with him. I asked Mr. W. why not just take a trip to China and see her. Mr. W. had issues that prevented him from leaving the USA.
I opened an account and posted a profile on this and a few other dating sites to understand how the "on line dating system works," and to ascertain if there was fraud involved here.
I talked to Mr.W. in his Attorney's office. I asked him to print out all of the e-mails sent and received between the two of them, so I could read the letters for content. It appeared to me, at times he was talking to three or four different personalities at once, or to a woman with an extremely moody personality. This was somewhat troubling to me.
In my investigations I found that this dating site has offices throughout China. Many of the women on this site are truly looking for men overseas to start a loving relationship with. The problem is that all of the e-mails sent and received must go through their dating site. They have people with basic English speaking and writing skills who read and answer all of the e-mails you send. Many times the girl you are writing to never sees or reads your e-mails. They "the office" will call the girl to inform her that she has an admirer. She will ask the office to answer you. She will go to the office to pick up your e-mail and picture when time permits, which has been translated into her dialect. The office would delete any personal contact information.
The communication problem that Mr. W. was experiencing with his girlfriend was the girls working in the office would answer your e-mails as they come in. Most of the time it was never the same office girl answering his e-mails. So depending on the level of the office workers English speaking skills, they were answering him based on their level of understanding of what he was trying to say in his e-mails. In essence he was talking to three different women at once. No wonder why Mr. W. was confused.
In other investigations, I have found that a man or a woman will post a profile on an American dating site and state they are living here in the USA. Their profile will say they are living in some obscure city in the Mid West or South Eastern USA. Once they have you on the hook emotionally and you start to press them for a face to face meeting, they will tell you they had to return to their country of origin because of a death in the family or some other disaster that has happened to a love one there. Usually, they need your help getting back to the USA because they lost all their money when their luggage was stolen at the Airport or some other catastrophe that has happened to them. These are "419 Nigerian scam artists." 419 is named after a formerly relevant section of the Criminal Code of Nigeria. In brief, 419 is a sub-classification of Advance Fee Fraud Crime in which the perpetrators are West Africans, primarily Nigerians operating globally from Nigeria and elsewhere. These 419 love scams will always involve the wiring of funds, your funds to help them out in some way.
In one "419 Love Scam," a lovely twenty two year woman sent e-mails to me nonstop for over two weeks expressing her undying love for me. She was also talking to one of my clients, by the way, and she asked if I could wire her the money needed for her airplane ticket. She wanted to fly to Boston to meet me. She had lost everything in Hurricane Katrina including and not limited to, her mother, father, grandmother and pet poodle. Her profile had her living in Lovesville, North Carolina. I did not realize the tidal surge went that far north.
Believe me within a few weeks of e-mailing back and forth or talking on messenger with a con artist, ( with a web cam so you can see how lucky you are to have such a lovely mate ) there will be drama.
In my investigations, I also found what I call the "bait and switch tactic." A man or woman usually in their twenty's will post a profile on another dating site and send you an e-mail. Once you answer him or her, they will ask you to open an account on an other dating web site that does translation services, so the two of you can communicate better. These web sites will charge you for every word or character they translate. Again, you pay for every e-mail you send or receive. One woman I became friendly with told me she received a small percentage for every client who opened an account and started to send e-mails.
On line dating can be a very exciting and rewarding experience. It can also turn very violent and deadly if you do not have a good understanding of the personality you are dealing with. If you have met someone on line, and are meeting them for the first time, I give my female clients a basic list of do's and don'ts,
1) For the first six dates or until you feel comfortable with the person, always meet him or her in a public place.
2) Have your own transportation to and from the meeting location if possible.
3) Let friends and family know where you are going, who you are meeting and what time you expect to be home.
4) Have your cell phone with you, batteries charged and your cell phone on. Have a friend call you during your first meeting to see how things are going. If you feel uncomfortable always trust your " gut " instinct. Have a code word that your contact will understand, and know you want to leave.
5) Never, never let someone you just met online, talk you into driving you home alone.
6) Know your tolerance for alcohol. Do not over drink.
7) If you meet in a club or bar never leave your drink unattended.
8) Never give someone you just met online your personal contact information, or home address.
9) A gentleman who has your best interest and safety at heart, will understand these rules. If your date ridicules you or tries to make you feel foolish because of them, loose him quickly.
10) Never send or wire money to anyone you have met online.
I will not tell you the horror stories I have been told by my female clients, who did not adhere to these basic rules.
Remember our two strongest drives are "sex and aggression." There are those among us who have a deep uncontrollable need to express domination and control over other human beings. This is accomplished in different ways but with the same goal, control. They obtain extreme sexual and physical gratification by means of physical violence.
What a person projects and what they are may be two entirely different matters. A threat assessment profile conducted by this office will tell you what he or she is really all about. What do you expect from him or her once the honeymoon phase of the relationship is over?
Answering the question,
"What is the best I can hope for, what is the worst I can expect?"
As the famous FBI Profiler John Douglas has stated:
"On line, I can be anyone you want me to be."
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding on line dating. I am here to help you and answer any questions you may have.