How to avoid online dating scams

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According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud.

In 2016, the last year for which data is available, consumers lost more than 0 million this way.

But if more than one of the following email discrepancies pop up during the course of your communications, it may be an internet dating scam.

It can be very heady to have an ongoing email chat with someone who is focused entirely on you.

If the images come up associated with a person who has another name or lives in a different city, you have good reason to suspect they were stolen from someone else’s profile.

And if you’ve been communicating with someone by email, check their address at a site such as Romance Scams, which compiles lists of email addresses belonging to known scammers. Type the name of the person you met online into Google or Bing and see what comes up. If you are asked to send money and feel so inclined, run the whole scenario by someone you trust.

The scammer might say that an immediate family member has a medical emergency and needs money for treatment, or that he has been wrongly arrested and needs help with bail money and legal support.

Or perhaps you've briefly thought to yourself that the person on the other end of the communication really needs to employ a spell-checker.

Neither of these email discrepancies is cause for alarm; a lot of people aren't very good at spelling and grammar, and they may be writing English as a second language.

So it’s up to you to determine how truthful a person is being in his or her profile.

To recognize and avoid romance scams, follow these tips. Copy the images your online correspondent has posted to his or her profile, then run them through a reverse-image search engine, such as Tin Eye or Google Images.

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