In the past 20 years, a lot has changed. It used to be that you drove to your office or business in order to get a paycheck, would pick up a phone or mail an actual letter to keep in touch and meet someone through a friend, at a function, or perhaps a bar in the neighborhood. You had one doctor that you went to for everything and if you wanted to buy a present for someone you actually went into a brick-and-mortar store to get it, brought it home, wrapped it, and walked over to the post office to mail it to them.
Now everything has changed. You can walk into your dining room and work in your pajamas. You send a text (or email if it is an involved conversation) to find out if your kids are coming for Mother’s Day. You have to go to five doctors to get insurance approval to have an ingrown toenail removed if you want it covered. You spend five minutes on Amazon and pick, pay, and ship that gift and take it off your “to-do list”. And if you want to meet someone you go online and start swiping left or right until someone catches your fancy based upon the glamor shot they posted in their profile.
Yes, the days of meeting someone at your job or the local pub are rarely what you hear when you ask “So where did you two meet?” Now it’s more like the internet matchmakers have cornered the market on love. There is something for everyone now. There’s Match, Tinder, Kippo, Bumble, OkCupid, Eharmony, DateMyAge… the list goes on and on. Finding a person for a relationship has become almost as easy as ordering food from a place down the street that won’t deliver, but is listed on your Doordash app. No more trying to guess what that blind date will look like by the description you get from your friend’s brother. Although not every photo matches the in-person view you get when you meet for drinks.
Yes, the online dating world can be interesting. You can meet someone and get to know them by text or chat or email and hopefully connect with someone before you actually take the time to get all dressed up to meet them for the first time. Hopefully, it will go well and lead to something wonderful. Hopefully, you will be one of the “success stories” that the website brags about, and you and your spouse will tell the story of your online dating story to your grandchildren one day. Hopefully.
The online dating world is also, unfortunately, filled with scammers that are ready to use your vulnerability to their advantage. They prey on those who are desperately trying to find someone. They will lure you in with romantic texts and promises of coming to see you “really soon”. They are always in another state (or country) and can never seem to make it when you have plans to finally be together in person. They always seem to say the right things and will constantly profess their love to you and tell you everything you want to hear. Then, one day, they will mention how they need money for something. It could be something like a car repair, or an unexpected medical bill. It could be so that they can come and visit “if only they had the money” and just when they are supposed to fly in to see you, they suddenly have a family emergency or have a sudden illness and have to cancel (even though they probably never purchased the ticket to begin with). These are the scum of the scammers. They convince you that it is true and that they are in love with you and want to come and move in or get married. But in the meantime, they are taking your money which is always transferred or sent by some online source like Venmo, Paypal, or even Western Union (yes, they are still around). We have had quite a few clients over the years that have reached out to us for help. It always starts out in a similar way, and hopefully, providing some examples of a few cases, it will help you to recognize the signs before it is too late.
Looking For Love In Larchmont NY – We had a case a few years back where a woman came to us concerned because she had started up a “relationship” with someone online just for fun. She thought it was some harmless flirting. The man she met online sent photos of him traveling the world for his company. He was very rich and very handsome and he somehow managed to convince her that he wanted a relationship with her. Then one day he called to say that he was traveling to some place in South America when he was robbed and they took his passport and everything he had. He needed to get back to the United States and he needed her help. Could she wire him a few thousand dollars? He would pay her back when he returned. She fell for his story and sent him $5,000. The next day he claimed that he was now having an issue at the border and needed money to get back in. Again swearing he would pay her back as soon as he was back home. She again sent him $10,000. She waited to hear from him and suddenly – ghosted. She was worried that something had happened to him and reached out to us to make sure he was ok.
We took a look into the person with all the information he had given her. There was no trace of such a person, or of a company that he claimed to own. She then shared the photos he had sent her. We did a deep dive on the web and found out that the photos were of a person that was living in another country and was very famous there. She had apparently been scammed. The phone number he contacted her on was a burner phone and nothing else she was given led to anyone real. When we researched the wire transfer information it was tracked to someplace in Texas, so we told her to go to the authorities, as the person had since disappeared, along with her money. Hopefully the authorities would be able to trace the money back to a person and the exact location for her and eventually arrest him.
Love And Little White Lies In White Plains NY – We had a call not too long ago from a young man that met someone online. He thought that he had met the woman of his dreams. This person was very attentive and would text him all the time. Then the woman fell upon hard times and needed some help. So of course our client would send her money any time he could. It got to the point that he was sending money every week as the woman continued to make promises about coming to NY to be with him. This went on for almost a year and by then our Client had sent almost $40,000 to this woman he had never met. Finally, the woman agreed to come and meet our Client, but when the day came, she never showed. Now our Client was worried that something had happened to her. It wasn’t like the woman to not respond to texts or calls. He came to us, concerned for his friend. When we looked into all the information that he had on the woman, nothing came up. The phone number was a Google number as was the email address which led nowhere. Since he did not have any photos other than a blurry screenshot he took once we were unable to do a thorough image search. We then tried to look into where the money was being sent. It was always to the same account number so we gave it a try. Through our research, we were able to come up with the name of the financial institution and the location. Our Client then reached out to the authorities for help. With that lead, they were able to find the person and press charges, but the money was long gone.
Heartbroken in Harrison NY – The cases that upset us the most are when scammers prey on widows or widowers. These people have already gone through a lot and are finally ready emotionally to put themselves out there to find some companionship, only to find a scammer waiting in the shadows. We met with a truly sweet woman that had been widowed for almost 10 years when her children finally convinced her to get back into the dating scene. She came across a man about the same age that lived in California and was a widower. He was exceptionally charming and managed to charm our Client out of almost $25,000. She did not know she was being scammed. She was worried because her friend had not contacted her in weeks. She said he had gotten into some trouble and needed the money for the bank. He told her that his son had not paid his house payments in almost a year and his son was afraid to tell him and now he was in danger of losing his home. Of course, she sent him the money and he was greatly appreciative. He said he would come to visit her soon and pay her back as soon as he sold some family heirlooms. She said he should not do that and offered to send him money to fly to NY so they could finally meet. Of course, she wired him about $1,000 more and when she got to the airport to meet his flight, he called to say he missed the flight because his car died. So she sent him money to get the car repaired.
By the time she came to us (thanks to the family talking her into it), she had already sent this man over $30,000. We once again did a deep dive into the internet as well as our databases and they came up empty – the man, or at least who he claimed to be, did not exist. The phone number, however, did come back to someone in California. The money was also wired to someone in the area of the phone owner as well. We reached out to a colleague in the county there and they came to find out that this person had been scamming several people and was finally able to be caught. Needless to say, the Client has decided that she is better off not going online for companionship and chose instead to do some volunteer work in her town where she actually did manage to meet someone to keep her company – a cute little dog she rescued from the shelter.
When you are looking for that special someone, if you take nothing else from this blog, please remember these few steps to keep yourself and your money safe:
- Never send money to someone you met online.
- Never meet someone you met online for the first time alone or in a secluded place – go to a restaurant or bar and keep your friends on speed dial.
- Never share any personal information (last name, address, financial info) with someone you have not met in person.
- Finally – and this is a big one. NEVER send someone you met online that you have not met in person any “questionable” photos or “questionable texts”. For example, even if you are feeling “connected” to the other person, don’t go sending a photo of you nude sunbathing on your back deck in Williamsburg. Chances are it could easily be used to blackmail you if you happen to be involved with a scammer and not the person you think. Remember, they will use anything they can as blackmail material if they are in fact a scammer. We have had several Clients that found themselves in this unfortunate situation and it is not fun for the Client or anyone they are close to. So please be careful.
If you feel that you have fallen into the category of “being scammed” please reach out to us for help. Even if you don’t, please don’t give them any more money. If they truly want a relationship with you, they should never take money from you — even if you offer it. Please remember that you cannot “buy love” as the saying goes. You deserve to find someone that wants to be in your life without paying them to do so. Love is not something you buy. Love is sitting on a bench holding hands and watching the sun set. So go find that sunset with the right person. You may find them online, or at your local pub, but make sure that you don’t send them money, especially if you haven’t met them in person before you find yourself in one of our blogs about being scammed. As much as we want to share some of our stories to help, we don’t want anyone to go through what our Clients do. Now go find that special someone. They are out there somewhere waiting for you – and they only want your heart and not your wallet.
Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded, handling cases all over Connecticut as well as Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, Bronx NY, New York City, Staten Island and Long Island NY. Adam, along with his wife Terri, have been working cases for Legal Teams, Insurance Companies, Private Businesses, Municipalities, School Systems and general investigation services for the public since 1992.
Investigreat, LLC | Private Investigators serving Connecticut, Long Island City, Jamaica NY, Brooklyn NY and Queens NY | Office Numbers: 860-899-1710 or 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269
*Please note – This blog is our opinion and not meant to be construed as legal advice. Always consult an Attorney for legal advice.