Dating con artists

" Moving off-site before launching a scam reduces the chance that you'll report the crook to the relevant site.

That's important to the con artist, who'll want to troll the site again for future victims when done with you.

There are no statistics saying just how common scammers are on dating sites.

But individuals who frequent them say scams are pervasive. Match.com, for instance, includes a disclaimer at the bottom of every onsite email between members, warning not to send money or provide credit card information to anyone you've met on the site.

The idea is to get you to suspend good sense and become enamored with someone you've known online for just a few weeks and have never met in person. Kipps has decided that another tip-off is photographs that show all the trappings of wealth -- exotic cars, mansions, pictures in romantic foreign settings.

Of course, real people sometimes have nice things and go to great places, but these visual cues are key to scammers who want to get your guard down for their future bid for cash.

By then, Morrison knew she was dealing with a scammer.

"The story was getting more and more bizarre," she says.

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He found out when he discovered his photos were on a romance scam site warning about the same Nigerian crook who had stolen his photos. If a profile indicates your match has a college degree, but he or she can't string a sentence together, you have reason to be suspicious. Commonly, when the victim proposes an in-person meeting, they'll come up with some excuse for why it can't happen: They're traveling, stationed overseas or have some long-distance emergency. Uncertain of whether she should believe the man, Kipps Googled "photos of sick children." And of course, the photographs she'd been getting via text message were public images posted online."I probably hear from five scammers a night," says Marko Budgyk, a Los Angeles financier who has frequented several online dating sites over the past 10 years."After a while, it becomes really easy to spot them." Here are six red flags to help detect and sidestep romance scams.If the victim doesn't figure out the con after the first request for cash, the crook will keep milking the relationship for as much as he or she can get.When the victim gets wise, the con artist gets scarce. But the increasing popularity of online dating gives them the perfect conditions to proliferate.