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Neil Winget: Heartless crooks look for the lovelorn


August 25. 2013 8:03AM
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Love makes you do crazy things sometimes. All you have to do is look at the headlines of recent days to confirm that truism.



We all want that special person in our lives. Some of us have found them. Some are looking, Some have lost that person. In any case, itís a human thing that can take over our lives and sometimes our common sense. This is where some of the most nasty, heartless and vicious scams ever to be perpetrated come into play.



Online dating services have been with us now for many years, and they display many real success stories about getting people together and, for the most part, this works. But like anything else in this day and age of the Internet, there are pitfalls, some of which are bottomless and potentially dangerous.



Recently, we were informed of a scam pulled on an individual in the region that cost this person more than $100,000 and a lot of heartbreak. After contacting an individual via one of the online services, the victim eventually was convinced that there was a love match and began sending money to the perpetrator of the scam. Only after agencies, such as Western Union, Fed Ex and UPS, refused to send any more money did the victim take any kind of action, and even after that, was still convinced the perpetrator was genuine. Itís a very sad case and happens all too often.



Online dating services do all they can to verify the identity and genuineness of any particular participant, but still the bad folks can slip through.



If you are considering this kind of search for a friend, consider this:



1. Beware of stalkers. Every once in a while, one can encounter creepy individuals who resort to stalking (online or offline) and threaten victims with harassment. If a situation feels uncomfortable, get out.



2. Dating, either the old-fashioned way or the modern way, is all about emotional involvement, and that is what the victim seekers, as mentioned above, use to pull their victims into a tender trap. You have to be very careful about getting too emotionally involved and maintain a distance until you are sure you would like to invest more of your time (and emotion) with this person.



3. Never reveal too many details about yourself, your life or your relatives, whether online or over the phone, until you are comfortable about whatís going on. Even then, use caution before you commit to a high degree of trust.



4. One huge red flag in any of this is a request for money. If the person on the other end suddenly begins talking about money problems, debt or some kind of financial emergency, bail out as fast as you can. Real romances do not start, nor do they depend, on money.



Love is blind and also makes us dumb sometimes, but using a little of our life experiences can make a difference and lead to better decisions. Just as the last tip tells you, real affairs of the heart do not have a dollar sign in front of them. If you get nothing else out this writing, remember that.



Neil Winget is the president of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.





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