Online dating fraudsters
He says: ‘We help websites share intelligence, so if a scammer targets someone on one website this will be flagged up to others.’Classic signals that a fraudster is at work include the use of fake photos, culled from other websites, or overly elaborate language on their profile.Winchester says: ‘Sometimes they use the same photos, but with different profiles, which is another red flag.’Many romance scams are even carried out by ‘bots’ – whose questions and responses are automated using artificial intelligence software.Matt Connolly, founder of My Lovely Parent, aimed at older divorced or widowed customers, says it checks the IP or Internet Protocol address that pinpoints the location of computers.He says: ‘If someone says they are in the UK, but the IP address is Nigeria, then that rings alarm bells and we can delete a profile.‘None of the profiles go up on the website until they have been approved by humans.’Dan Winchester works for Scamalytics, a software company that helps protect many dating websites and their customers.A scammer’s classic ploy is to lure their target away from the relative safety of the dating website.David says: ‘We started emailing each other instead.The warehouse worker is still piecing his life and finances back together three years on.David, 58, turned to online dating after the break-up of a long-term relationship.
Julie, then 47, believed he was from the American Midwest, a career soldier and an animal-lover who was fond of travel and looking for a long-term relationship.
He even called the immigration number on her documents.
Unfortunately, it was an accomplice at the end of the phone. He says: ‘I got into debt, but she said she would pay me back.’When Kerry said she could not get the flight to visit him without yet another payment to ‘immigration’, David finally sought advice and learnt he had been scammed. Devastated, he turned to Victim Support to help him get back on his feet emotionally, and to debt charity Step Change to sort out his debts.
He says: ‘I was encouraged to take up a hobby and have been ballroom dancing several nights a week.
It has been great as therapy and for making friends.‘I’ve only just started to be able to trust people again.
The relationship made me happy.’ About four months later Kerry, who claimed to be 45, began to request money, initially for an air fare from Ghana, where she said she lived.