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Grandmother Taken for $5400 in Online Dating Scam

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All my life, I’ve been waiting for someone to give me a million dollars in diamonds, which have been willed to me by my long-lost Somalian stepfather, who’s supposedly the third generation dictator under the humble Mr. George Kinneus the Third. Or something like that.

If you receive an offer resembling that one, run for the hills.

This is what happened to the 55-year-old grandmother in New Zealand, who was simply looking for love online. She was checking out her prospects on Match.com, the most popular dating site. The grandmother got a “wink,” which is like a “poke” on Facebook, from “kiwibloke25.” According to his profile, “kiwibloke25” was a 55-year-old man seeking a serious relationship with a woman between 49 and 68 years old.

In his first message, he told the grandmother that she “[seemed] to be the type of person he [was] looking for,” and gave her his personal email address. Soon they were exchanging emails and talking on the phone. The man shared numerous intimate details about his life.

Exchanges like these lure unsuspecting victims into scammers’ traps. In this case, “kiwibloke25” claimed to have been robbed by Somalian gangsters while traveling through Dubai, and asked his victim for $5400 to cover the duty on some diamonds he had supposedly purchased. She wired him the money but became suspicious when he asked for more, to pay for a company to securely transfer the diamonds back to New Zealand. She then discovered that “kiwibloke25,” as she thought she knew him, never existed at all.

If you use an online dating service, be on guard for scams. Stick to legitimate, well-known websites, and get referrals from friends who have successfully met romantic partners online. But never let your guard down.

When creating your dating profile, never post personal information, including your middle name, full address, phone number or entire birth date.

To vet potential dates, look for information about them elsewhere online, and confirm that it matches the information in their online dating profiles.

If a potential date asks for a loan or any financial information, report them to the dating website immediately.

Dating sites could protect users by incorporating device identification, device reputation and risk profiling services to keep scammers out. Oregon-based iovation Inc. offers the world’s leading device reputation service, called ReputationManager 360.  It has been recognized over the past few years for “Best New Technology” used by the internet dating industry. This service is established and has protected over 2 billion online dating activities for its clients and has flagged 2.7 million of those identified as scams and solicitations, spam, identity mining/phishing, profile representation and other abuses.  Stopping scams and abusive behavior upfront greatly helps online dating sites not only protect their brand reputation, but most importantly protect their active members.

According to Industry Consultant, Mark Brooks, “The dating industry uses three lines of defense against scammers and abuse: automated software defense, user flagging and customer/abuse teams. iovation’s technology has enabled many dating sites to work together to beat scammers.”

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses dating security on E! True Hollywood Stories. (Disclosures)

About the Author
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.

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