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I was thinking about the topic, "How Lonely Are You?" and comments by CQQL on "Craziness" and I got to wondering about the numbers of people who have had experience with dating sites and met scammers. A number of months ago, someone on the AARP website contacted me through private email and wanted to strike up a friendship. I tried to blow him off, although he seemed to be a nice person. Eventually I caved in and we had some pleasant email exchanges, albeit, a bit reluctantly on my part. Then the time came that he wanted to take it to regular email. I resisted, although, based upon two months of being "penpals," I had no reason to be suspicious. I gradually relented. Well, this person turned out to be from Ghana...I checked out the IP address for the origination of the message and every message was from Accra, Ghana...a hotbed of internet dating scams.
Ladies & gentlemen...one cannot be too careful! We meet and chat on these discussion groups, but AARP is not checking out IP addresses unless specifically asked to do so. This man was not actively posting, but had joined a number of the groups. I did some sleuthing and found that he was obviously "trolling" for victims and it didn't make any difference whether they were men or women, because he had joined a group that referenced the gay lifestyle. In other words, from his end, he could be gay, straight, male, female, bisexual. He would tailor his answers to his victim.
I reported him to AARP. The lesson here is this: While we have all gotten to know each other and feel comfortable through our discussions, I never expected to be approached by anyone on the AARP site who was posing as a typical AARP member. He was lurking behind the scenes and checking out pictures/profiles. I was very cautious from the beginning since he was not a regular poster and I was still drawn in. I couldn't really check it out until we had a private email exchange. I did, just to see if he was emailing me from the place where he said he lived. If he were on a laptop & traveling, that would explain the Ghana IP address. He, however, emailed me and told me exactly where he was supposed to be in different areas of the US and once in London. That was my confirmatory proof that he was lying. He had never left Ghana because the IP's didn't match and they always originated in the same place.
I haven't lost anything & I doubt I would have been a victim of his scam, but in retrospect, I could see how I was being groomed for one. Remember, "trust, but verify?" You must always do that.
So... does anyone have any similar stories to tell? These men & women are on all of the major dating sites and, I just found out, are making headway into sites like these and social networking sites. I am curious to know your experiences if you are willing to share.