Men get scammed online too.

At least once a week I’ll read about the tales of gullible, lonely women who make a bad decision to either:

1) meet someone in a compromising location or

2) send someone money that they’ve never met in real life.

The ending of the story is never happy, the woman is typically assaulted, robbed, scammed and left hurt and heartbroken. I’m not trying to push you away from “online dating” (though I hear www.MingleAround.com has some awesome “offline” dating events!) but I’m here to warn both women and men to be careful with your hearts, wallets and body. 

A man I have met a few months ago recently fell for the “please send me money” scam, though he’ll never know the details and how many more people fell for her innocent pleas since he’ll never report it to the police. “Men don’t fall for scams.” was his reply to my suggestion to report this fraud.

The scam goes by many names but is most widely known as the Nigerian Scam.
The basic premise of this scam is you are contacted by someone who needs money advanced to them, but the hook is, you will get a huge return back, since it is only temporary until their millions are freed up. This scam always plays out to be a large convoluted story involving lawyers, family and some catastrophic situation like death of a family member who somehow seemed to have left a large fortune they just cannot access at this time..

But they do, and at an alarming pace. The frauder will take her(his?) time cultivating a relationship online from another part of the country, always saying that she is moving to (insert your city here) in a few months. Typically she’ll state that she is looking for new friends before she moves and will request a friendship with a man who may have been having a difficult time with online dating. The women will often call, e-mail and even write love letters expressing how excited she is to have met a “nice, real man for once!”.

Then comes the bait. She’ll have an emergency of sorts, possibly with her ex husband or child, or can’t afford the deposit on the moving truck and her ex husband just canceled her credit cards. “Oh please, oh please” starts her cry, with many apologies and “I’m so embarrassed, I hardly know you, but I don’t have anyone else” and then when she asks you to wire her $3,000 but she’ll be in town in 24 hours and will pay you back in cash.  How’s a polite southern raised gentleman to react? Most men that I know would bend over backwards to help out the woman that they are interested in and this story is no different.

In my friends matter, he sent her the $3,000 plus some. The thought of his “lady” stranded with a moving truck, a child and no man to help her load and drive that truck to Chicago alone was just too much for him to bear. He was falling for her and her fake profile and would have done just about anything to ensure she had a smooth trip to Chicago… I mean he’d be seeing her face to face in less than 24 hours! Needless to say, she never stopped by to thank him and her online account disappeared. The phone number was disconnected too.

He’ll never really know if she (he?) was a “pro” or just some girl pressing her luck. He doesn’t really care either way, he’s tried to forget his stupidity and has also taken his profiles off of the dating sites. He’s given up on dating also. After getting so excited for the fraud girl and then the huge let down (and theft), he doesn’t think he’s up to the “game” anymore. It’s a shame, he is a great guy who could offer a lot to the right girl. I keep telling him to get out there and mingle, maybe one of these days he’ll come out to a singles party and meet real people face to face.

What to do if you have been scammed.

You will not get your money back.

I am very sorry to tell you this, but there is nothing the police or FBI can do.

You should still report it to both places.

If you sent money using Western Union, report it to them.

They cannot get your money back, but they need to know.

Warn other people, share your story, share it online and help educate others so they won’t fall prey to these scams and scammers.

The best prevention in the case of any of the Advance Fee, or Nigeria Scam is to already know about them and how they operate

As long as people keep falling for these scams they will be around.

Spread the word and help those you know not to fall for this scam.

Never send money to a stranger.

The National Fraud Information Center: http://www.fraud.org/ is perhaps the best site for reporting fraud in the US. The NFIC accepts reports about attempts to defraud consumers on the telephone or the Internet. (It does not accept reports about home improvement, auto sales, or other transactions that usually take place at consumers’ homes or retail stores.) It includes the Internet Fraud Watch. There is a very good section of the site on fraud against the elderly. Also included is an excellent set of federal, local and non-profit links: http://www.fraud.org/info/links.htm (including the state attorney generals for many states).

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