12 February 2012

Love Scams

Tips to Avoid Love Scammers

Singapore Police released their crime statistics which reflected that cases of online love scams has increased – from 21 cases in 2010 to 62 cases in 2011. The total amount cheated also rose from about $824,000 in 2010 to about $2.3 million in 2011. Most victims are female, and above 40.

Why most of the victims are female?
Both men and women are as prone to be cheated. With the sprouting of social media and internet dating websites, people are more receptive towards making friends online. These online scammers tend to target women in 40s as they have savings, single and open to meet friends online.

These ladies are established in their career, some of them do feel empty and hope to find a partner to share their life with. They come to realise the importance of having a family besides career. They do feel the pressure to settle down soon. In addition, some of these ladies are less street/ savvy in verifying friendship made through social media.

Examples of these scams have been around for years, why do victims still fall for it?
Firstly, when the scammer established the emotional connections and trust with the victim, they will paint a picture of happy family with the victim. In hope of being loved and a better future, victims fell for the scams.
Secondly, some ladies may not be informed enough on identifying Love Scams.

Safelty tips to making new friends
As people realize life is more meaningful shared together with someone else, they see the importance of socializing. How do we protect ourselves?

Here are some tips to protect ourselves while enlarging our social network:

1. If you want to befriend foreigners via dating websites, add them in facebook, linked or twitter. Check out their photos and get an idea of their lifestyle/relations/background. A sincere healthy honest person will have people communicating with them online and photo tagged by/with their colleagues/friends/families.

2. Interact with their peers to verify consistency of his/her character and information.

3. They might claim to be widow/divorcee to win sympathy points. Ask him/her to show the photos of them with their children. Add them in your facebook and video chat with them.

4. It's always the same plot. After months of chatting and building the relationship, culprits will want to meet the victims to discuss on marriage. On the way, culprits claim to be stucked in customs and expect victims to redeem them. Or their expensive gift is stuck at the customs, they ask victims to pay X amount of money to release it. Or culprits has a great investment to share with victims. Victims may be invited to be a director of the company or culprits may simply ask for an loan due to financial difficulties.

As urgent as culprits may sound, don't let them push you into it. Tell him you needed time to think. Discuss with a wise friend/family, get clarity, document all the information, check the sources of the email addresses/phone telephones and you will have a clearer idea of what to do. 999 is just a phone call away.

5. In other situations, culprits may request the victims to perform sexual acts in front of their webcams, record these acts without the victims‟ knowledge and subsequently threaten to circulate compromising photos and videos of the victims to extort money from them.

Police advise not to accede to any request that may put you in a vulnerable positions, such as performing compromising acts in front of the webcam, or give personal details about yourself when interacting with other internet users.

6. Inform the police immediately if anyone attempts to extort money from you. Do not remit or transfer money to people whom you do not know well enough.

7. It is safer to meet new friends through facilitated group settings where people meet face to face. Clique Wise is an established company which runs social events for singles weekly. We collect the participants’ name, IC, contact number so as to verify their status before our events. We take in Singaporeans, PR and expats participants only.