FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 4, 2015
CONTACT: Michael Rowett/ 501-217-1625
AARP Arkansas joins petition drive for
online dating sites to crack down on fraud
$81 million lost nationally to scammers in just one year
LITTLE ROCK —Romance scammers use the Internet to rob Americans of an estimated $81 million per year, and AARP’s Fraud Watch Network today called on the online dating industry to institute new safeguards to better protect their users.
AARP Arkansas is inviting its members and the general public to become involved in the national campaign by signing an online petition.
Demonstrating the ease with which online dating con artists currently operate, the June/July 2015 edition of AARP The Magazine contains the compelling story of one victim who was robbed of $300,000 in a romance fraud:
“Individual scammers and highly organized groups attempt to steal hearts and wallets from online dating site users every day,” said Warren Searls, AARP Arkansas Fraud Watch Network Leadership Volunteer. “The sites don’t yet do enough to protect their members from known scammers. Our petition asks the companies to take common sense steps to help put a stop to the scammers’ abilities to prey on the unsuspecting.”
The Internet Crime Complaint Center reported receiving more than 6,400 romance scam complaints with losses totaling $81 million in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. Moreover, losses from romance scams increased by 61 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to the 2013 IC3 Annual Report.
To combat such losses, specific anti-fraud measures , the Fraud Watch Network urges online dating sites to implement include:
- Crack down on scammers by identifying and shutting down the accounts of those who pay with stolen credit cards.
- Check IP addresses to verify profiles' listed locations.
- Employ algorithms detect suspicious language patterns used by scammers.
- Use image searches to identify fake profiles used across various dating websites.
- Issue early warning alerts to any member who's been in contact with someone using a fake profile.
- Educate members with tips on how to spot and avoid romance scammers — and provide resources and contact information for those who've been victimized.
The Fraud Watch Network also suggests dating site users follow these 5 tips to avoid online scams:
- Adopt an aura of mystery. Don't provide your last name, your address or where you work until you've actually met—and be wary of suitors who ask for any of this personal information too quickly.
- Prevent cyber romance tracking. If you’re using a mobile app, turn off your location settings so cons can't figure out where you're located.
- Check photos. Many scammers perpetrate their crime by stealing people's photos and assuming their identities. Before you engage with anyone on a dating site, use Google's “search by image” feature to see if that person's image shows up in other places using a different name.
- Verify that the person is real. Do an online search to see if the things you read match up with his/her claims. Is what you read on the person's Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn pages consistent with what you're being told?
- Use search engines to check out suitors. If you get a suspicious email, check it out. Cut and paste the e-mail into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites.
Arkansans can learn more for themselves, their friends and family members by checking out AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine , the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org .