When we think of romance scam victims, we usually picture senior men or women who fall for the gorgeous looks of a “supermodel”, and lose their minds –and earnings - to the dream of marrying Mr. or Ms. Perfect. Although this does happen, statistics on online dating reveal a different story. In the United States, 19 million women use the Internet to look for a romantic partner. Men use dating sites slightly more than women, but women are much more likely to fall victims of online dating scams.
Most of the cases of scamming reported to the FBI sponsored Internet Crime Complaint Center last year come from women in their fifties, but the most surprising figure is the amount of losses: women in this age group lost an approximate of $34 million, which represents 61% of all reported losses resulting from romance scams. Keep in mind these figures are for the U.S. only, and private investigators estimate that the real losses may be 10 times this amount, due to the fact that very few victims report the crime. Sadly, most victims are too ashamed to admit or report being a scam to the authorities. Others understand there is little or nothing that can be done, so they deal with it and move on without reporting.
It is true that the FBI statistics shed some light on the growing problem with scams and fraud, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. It is also true that by reporting the crime, very little or nothing will be done by the FBI or any other government agency. The numbers simply serve as a warning to the public.
Middle aged women are the most vulnerable in the U.S., according to the statistics. In most cultures, women are raised to be very conscious about their safety. They are constantly warned of an innumerable threats that could endanger their lives. But, as time goes on, and older women become more active on the internet, the threat seems to fade away. Women feel safe inside the comfort of their homes, and don't always realize there are some experienced criminal targeting them for identity theft, romance scam or other crime. International investigators say the risk for scams is only getting worse.
American society has seen a transformation in which women are often the breadwinners, so they have money and hence are an attractive target for online criminals seeking to target you for identity theft, romance scams and other crimes. Knowing that women are now primary targets of fraud on social networks, online dating, and other internet based crime, women need to be alert and highly skeptical when meeting people via the internet. When in doubt, a background check from a reputable private investigation company is a wise move, and can be a valuable tool to minimize your risk.
Internet criminals need information about you to make become their next victim or steal your identity. Private experts and law enforcement agencies warn that many online and real world crimes start by individuals sharing too much information on the internet. If a criminal can find your birth date, address, photo, employer, and interests on the internet, you might just be the perfect victim.