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Online scam artists prey on singles looking for love

Statement issued Tuesday by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office:

Many people are using online dating services to find their perfect match, but so are criminals. Innocent love seekers may find their wallets or purses a little lighter after being conned from someone they met online.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office warns singles that while turning to the Internet has helped many find successful relationships, be wary if asked to send money. Often criminals will play the part of a flattering love match, but after a few weeks of talking online they ask for money to help with a financial emergency.

Some tips to avoid falling victim to this type of scam include:

  • Find out whether the dating service conducts background checks or fraud scans before a person’s profile is posted.
  • Be cautious if the person immediately asks you to communicate on an email or messaging system outside the dating site. Some dating sites monitor exchanges for signs of fraud, and a fraudster may be anxious to lure you away from the site.
  • Be suspicious if your match is reluctant to meet in person or talk on the phone.
  • Do an Internet search on the person. You can even paste the text of the email, profile description, or pictures into a search engine to see if similar information is used by others. Some criminals create multiple profiles and use the same information.
  • Be suspicious if the person hints that they are in financial trouble. If the person asks you to wire money — such as by Western Union, MoneyGram or Green Dot MoneyPak—it is probably a scam.
  • Exercise caution before meeting face-to-face with someone you have met online. Choose a public place and, if possible, bring a friend with you.
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