In the wake of the Manti Te'o hoax—not too mention the growing popularity of MTV's reality drama Catfish—Washington decided to weigh in on the the rise of dating scams. In a blog post, the State Department offered tips on how to recognize common online relationship scammers:
- The scammer and the victim meet online – often through Internet dating or employment sites.
- The scammer asks for money to get out of a bad situation or to provide a service.
- Photographs that the scammer sends of “him/herself” show a very attractive person. The photo appears to have been taken at a professional modeling agency or photographic studio.
- The scammer has incredibly bad luck— often getting into car crashes, arrested, mugged, beaten, or hospitalized — usually all within the course of a couple of months. They often claim that their key family members (parents and siblings) are dead. Sometimes, the scammer claims to have an accompanying child overseas who is very sick or has been in an accident.
- The scammer claims to be a native-born American citizen, but uses poor grammar indicative of a non-native English speaker. Sometimes the scammer will use eloquent romantic language that is plagiarized from the Internet.
In the event that you do find yourself on the unlucky end of a dating scam, you can always report the incident to ic3.gov.