College football star Manti Te’o has been torn to shreds in the media for allegedly concocting a girlfriend, but he claims he was the victim of an elaborate hoax.The AP has reported that Te’o says he was tricked into an “online relationship.“
While it’s not clear whether the all-American football player is telling the truth, his claims do highlight a sad fact about modern love in the age of the Internet: Criminals use Internet dating sites to prey on the lonely.
The FBI warns that criminals troll Internet dating sites to form “a connection” with vulnerable strangers, sometimes going as far as to send them flowers.
Scammers eventually find a way to ask the victims for money, sometimes pretending they’re low on cash and need an infusion from their online lovers.
In October 2012, the Internet Crime Complaint centre revealed an even more elaborate and disturbing ploy to get cash from single people.
As part of what the ICC called a typical “dating extortion scam,” criminals met their victims on dating sites and asked them to connect on a different social networking site.
The conversations quickly turned to sex, and scammers eventually alerted victims to a website that called victims cheaters and listed their names, photos, and phone numbers. If victims paid $99, then scammers would do them the favour of removing their names.
While flagrant extortion like this is clearly illegal, more and more states have passed laws making it illegal just to impersonate somebody online.
So, scammers might think twice before creating bogus profiles, even if they’re just bored and duping daters as a sick joke.
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