WASHINGTON, D.C . – With romance scammers using the Internet to rob Americans of an estimated $81 million per year, AARP’s Fraud Watch Network today called on the online dating industry to institute new safeguards to better protect their users. AARP North Carolina 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 edition of AARP The Magazine contains the compelling story of one victim who was robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a romance fraud.
Individual scammers and highly organized groups attempt to steal hearts and wallets from online dating site users every day,” said AARP North Carolina Director Doug Dickerson. “The sites don’t yet do enough to protect their members from known scammers. Our petition asks the companies to take commonsense 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 complaints with losses totaling $81 million regarding romance scams in just one year, 2013, its most recent annual information. To combat such losses, specific anti-fraud measures the Fraud Watch Network urges the online dating sites to implement include:
- Employ algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns used by scammers.
- Search for fake profiles across multiple dating websites.
- Issue alerts to any member who has been in contact with someone using a fraudulent profile.
- Educate members with tips on how to avoid romance scammers.
As part of its current campaign, the AARP Fraud Watch Network has posted tips to advise dating site members how to avoid online scams. One handy tip is: 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. If an email from a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites. STATE consumers can learn more for themselves, their friends and family members at the Fraud Watch Network.