Dating Scams, Variations on the Grandparent Scam Hit Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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The Grandparent scam is an old scam when an offender calls a grandparent, and claims to be the grandson, or the grandson’s lawyer, for example. The caller reports that money is needed to get the grandson out of a serous problem — a DUI charge, a manslaughter charge, a lost passport, or lost money. Now offenders can build a stronger scam by having additional information about a victim’s relative or the victim by study Facebook.

ABC Chicago’s Jason Knowles reports an incident of a businessman who wired $2,000 to London after getting a fraudulent message from his niece’s Facebook account that said she lost her wallet and passport. The offenders apparently knew she was in London from monitoring the niece’s Facebook account. The offenders may have been able to get into the account over a non-secure Wi-Fi network.

It’s surprising how many people leave their Facebook accounts open when they leave a public computer. If a person forgets to log off at a health club Internet cafe, for example, the next person can manipulate the account.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that other scammers take advantage of some victims’ loneliness. Offenders simply build an online relationship and ask for money.

How to Recognize a Scam Artist
The relationship may not be what you think, especially if your sweetheart:

1. wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal email or IM
2. claims love in a heartbeat
3. claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
4. plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour (Scammers also like to say they’re out of the country for business or military service.)

Don’t wire money to cover:

1. travel
2. medical emergencies
3. hotel bills
4. hospital bills for a child or other relative
5. visas or other official documents or losses from a temporary financial setback

The FTC also warns not to send money to tide someone over after a mugging or robbery, and not to do anyone a favor by making an online purchase or by forwarding a package to another country. One request leads to another, and delays and disappointments will follow. In the end, the money will be gone along with the person you thought you knew.

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