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"When some 25-year-old girl is telling you that she's in love with you, you have to wonder why," he says. If a 25-year-old model is contacting a 50-year-old man, there's something wrong." Scammers look for vulnerable populations -- women and men in their 50s and 60s who are divorced or widowed and may feel rejected or past their prime.
Morrison says she realizes that photos posted by her one-time suitor were also fakes. Linguistic anomalies: Bad grammar, strange word choices and linguistic gymnastics are other signs of a foreign scammer, experts say. Kipps says her worst experience was with a man who claimed to be a widower raising his five-year-old daughter. Says Kipps: "What kind of horrible person does something like that?Though the amounts and details of the scam vary from victim to victim, when it comes to romance scams, the con is almost always the same: The crook wants to get a besotted victim to wire money or provide access to a credit card.If the victim doesn't figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get."After a while, it becomes really easy to spot them." Here are six red flags to help detect and sidestep romance scams.Let's leave the site: Online dating sites have the ability to monitor and boot members who exhibit problematic behavior or are perpetrating scams, so con artists want to quickly move their victims elsewhere.Where do the scammers get photos of themselves in these exotic locations and with these costly products? They troll other sites and steal other people's photos. Many are operating out of foreign countries, despite profiles saying they live nearby. When she declined, the messages got more desperate.
Budgyk knows this from experience: A Nigerian scammer lifted photos from Budgyk's profile. Their photographs are also likely of someone else, and that would be tough to explain in person. He sent heart-wrenching photos of a young girl, who appeared to be his daughter's age, hooked to a raft of medical monitors.
But individuals who frequent them say scams are pervasive. Match.com, for instance, includes a disclaimer at the bottom of every onsite email between members, warning not to send money or provide credit card information to anyone you've met on the site.
"I probably hear from five scammers a night," says Marko Budgyk, a Los Angeles financier who has frequented several online dating sites over the past 10 years.
They'd hit it off right away, and he said he lived just outside of Phoenix, which seemed relatively proximate to a woman in remote Yuma, Ariz. First, he was traveling through India with his daughter.
Then the daughter became ill and had to be hospitalized.
"The story was getting more and more bizarre," she says.