ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar. 7, 2012-- Online dating is nearly a billion dollar industry and fraudsters are cashing in by targeting women and men looking for love. The scam starts simply: boy meets girl on the Internet. Then the “relationship” progresses: boy and girl e-mail, talk on the phone, and trade pictures. And, finally, boy and girl make plans to meet, and even make marriage plans.
As the relationship gets stronger, the requests start to change. Boy asks girl to wire him money; he needs bus fare to visit a sick uncle. The first wire transfer is small but the requests keep coming and growing—his daughter needs emergency surgery, he needs airfare to come for a visit, etc. The payback promises are empty; the money’s gone, and so is he.
“Relationship scams, especially those that start online, are common,” said Shelley Bernhardt, Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services. “Fraudsters use online dating sites to gain peoples’ trust and affection but their interest is money, not a relationship. Knowledge is power and we want to arm people with the right information so they can avoid these scams; this week especially since it’s National Consumer Protection Week, but year-round too.”
Said Bernhardt: “The ‘too good to be true’ expression is definitely something to remember to protect against a scam, along with a few other simple rules.”
These rules include:
- Never send money to people or organizations you don’t know; only send money to people you personally know and trust – and in this case, have met in-person. Be especially cautious with people you meet online, even if you correspond with them via email or phone.
- Be wary of anyone who asks you to leave the dating website immediately to continue your conversation through email or IM, says the Federal Trade Commission in their guide to avoiding online dating scams. This allows fraudsters to carry out their scam without the dating site having a record of your encounter.
- Be cautious of someone who claims to be from the United States, but is currently overseas. Fraudsters will often use offshore accounts, making it more difficult for authorities to track them down and catch them.
- Never provide your banking information to unknown individuals or businesses.
- Be alert. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Verify every emergency situation before sending money.
- Fraudsters can trick their victims in a variety of ways. Sometimes they express instant feelings of love and other times they slowly lead their victims along. No matter how much your relationship might seem like the real thing, you should be suspicious if someone starts asking for information like credit card or Social Security numbers.
Western Union provides a trusted and reliable way for people to send money to family members and friends. However, it is important to remember that a money transfer can be paid out to the receiver within a short time—even minutes—and after the money is paid, consumers cannot obtain a refund from Western Union, even if the transfer was the result of fraud.
If you sent a Western Union Money Transfer® and believe you may be a victim of fraud, call the Western Union Fraud Hotline number at (800) 448-1492. Information on fraud scams is available on the Consumer Protection section of Western Union website at: http://www.westernunion.com/stopfraud. Additional information on money transfer scams is available from the Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov > Consumer Protection > Money Matters > Scam Watch > Money Wiring Scams.
About Western Union
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of December 31, 2011, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 485,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of principal between consumers, and 425 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.
Source: Western Union
Kathy Bell, 720-332-5248