Caution! They want your money!

Every year, thousands of people fall for on-line scammers from a variety of sources including dating sites and social media. These thieves are typically from overseas and have perfected their art pretty well. Their goal is simple: they want money and will lie without boundaries in order to get it. Luckily, there are ways to spot them if you’re a little savvy. Below are some tips and red flags to look for if you’re delving into the on-line dating game.

  1. Only one picture in their profile– The scammers steal pictures from the internet. Doing that limits the number of photos they can access since they avoid celebrities. Only having one profile picture in their gallery is a red flag. Exception: If the picture is absolutely horrible and was taken with a cell phone while looking in the bathroom mirror, it’s probably legit. I mean, who would steal that?
  2. Using the word “Dear” – Anyone who starts with “Hello Dear,” or any variation of that is most likely a scammer. Evidently these people don’t realize that Americans haven’t used the word “Dear” to refer to someone since the 1940s. Exception: If they use it in a proper salutation, as in “Dear Cindy,” but even that is kind of weird.
  3. Improper syntax or grammar– The overseas scammers usually have trouble with English. They’ll use odd phrases or sentence structure when responding to messages. Their profile statements are typically pretty good as they take more time and get help with those, but when they get to the point where they have to interact quickly to messages, things can fall apart. One man told me he’d like my phone number because, it would be “Very much more easier” to talk. Huh? Exception: Sometimes texting on their phone can cause autocorrect to do some goofy things and make someone say something they didn’t Nintendo.
  4. Push for phone number or private email quickly—They want to get you off platform as soon as possible so there is no evidence at the site of their scam attempts. Don’t give it to them until you are sure they’re the real deal. Exception: They’re not a scammer, but they’re a serial killer and are hiding evidence. Either way, don’t do it!
  5. Obviously didn’t read your profile-The scammers have standard contact statements they cut and paste into multiple messages for their first contact. They’re talking to many other people while they’re talking to you, hoping some will respond. The messages are pretty easy to spot in that they lack details that pertain to you. For example, it will likely say, “I liked your profile. You have a sweet smile and seem like someone I’d like to know better.” Exception: They’re a narcissist and really don’t care what you said in your profile. Sounds like a real catch, eh?
  6. Remove profile or block you if you mention a scam concern—I responded to one man who’d I suspected to be a scammer, but wasn’t sure. When he asked for my phone number I told him I’d feel more comfortable with messaging for a while since there were so many scammers on the site. Not only did he not respond, he blocked me immediately.
  7. They usually claim to be younger than their target group—A 45 year-old male seeking women between 50 and 65? What are the odds of that? The scammers know that older women on these sites are often lonely and have available cash. A 20 year-old woman has to borrow money for Taco Bell. She’s of no use to them. Many older women are easily flattered by the attentions of a young handsome man and will ignore the red flags. Exception: If the 45 year-old man is as ugly as a garden rake and has the same number of teeth, he might be legit.
  8. Claims to be a woman contacting you for her brother—Or some other close friend of hers. The picture will be a nice older lady and will pique the curiosity of the women receiving the messages enough for them to open and read it. They usually say something like, “Hello Dear” (There’s that darned Dear again) I was trying to get my brother/friend to start on-line dating and I was showing him how the sites work. He saw your profile and was intrigued, but he’s too shy to contact you. If you would email/call him at xxx-xxxx he would be so happy. I’m going to be removing my profile soon as I’ve already found someone.” Exception: None. That’s a flat out scam from Hades.
  9. Too good to be true—He’s handsome, wealthy, moral, has a lot in common with you, looking for a special someone…right. Exception: There are some of those out there, but if they have any of the other warning signs, be cautious. Perfect men are usually snatched up quickly by perfect women who look like Barbie dolls.
  10. No pictures—This might not indicate a scammer, but it does increase the chances he’s married and doesn’t want his wife’s friends to tell her they saw his profile on a dating site. These guys will offer to send a picture via private email, but that’s sort of fishy, right? Exception: He might be well known in the area and embarrassed to be on a dating site. However, if you decide to take that chance, make sure he introduces you to his friends and family quickly. If he’s cheating on his wife, he won’t do that.
  11. They claim to be born in America, but have an accent—I was talking to one woman who was getting ready to send an “American architect” stuck overseas, $1200 so he could fly home and fix his banking issue. He had lots of money, but couldn’t get access (Insert eye roll here) She had talked to him on the phone and he had an accent, but that was because his mother was French…Really? He was born and grew up in the US, but he had a French accent? I’ve known many bilingual citizens (Including my granddaughter) and they spoke both English and their second language with no accent at all. If they sound funny and they’re not Henny Youngman, be wary.

 

If your potential date passes the above criteria there’s another way to spot a scammer. Their story usually follows a particular pattern: They’re American and wealthy, but they’re stuck overseas (Or someplace far enough away from you that you can’t just drive and pick them up.) They’re often servicemen. For some weird reason, they can’t access their vast wealth, for instance: their credit card was stolen, the bank froze their accounts due to a computer glitch, etc. They need you to lend them some money so they can get home. They’ll repay you by Tuesday, as soon as they can get to the bank and straighten things out.  There are variations on this theme, of course. They might be letting you in on an investment opportunity that’s going to make you rich, or they have a child that needs surgery and they don’t know what to do…whatever. The point is, they present a need for cash. If they’re really good, they never ask for it directly. They hint around hoping the woman offers to help them. They might even half-halfheartedly refuse the help at first. “I don’t want to take your money. Let me try once more to get this mess straightened out and if I can’t, I’ll call/text you back.”

The things you need to remember about scammers:

  1. The man in the picture is NOT the man you’re talking to.
  2. He’s talking to several other women too. He’s most likely overseas, sitting at a computer, interacting with many other women.
  3. These are often done in office like settings with several scammers working together.
  4. They will lie, and they’re good at what they do.
  5. Never, ever, ever send cash, give credit card or social security numbers, or anything they can use to get money out of you.
  6. If they are truly interested in you, they’re not after money. If you say, “I’m sorry, I wish I could help you but I don’t have any money either,” and you don’t hear from them again, you’ll have your answer.

While it is possible to find good matches on these sites (I have many friends who’ve found spouses on them) you must be cautious. A “real” contact will understand that and won’t pressure you to do more than you’re comfortable with. Good luck and be careful!

Granny might be on the loose, but she’s not stupid.

*Feel free to share this post or show to someone you suspect might be falling for a scam.

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*If you’d like to see past posts, go to the top of this page and click the “home” button and scroll down, or go to the “categories” on the right side of the page.

*I’m also a published fiction author. If you want to check out my books, you can find out more about them here.

 

 

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The Crazy Summer of ’17

If any of you have been wondering why I haven’t posted for a while, it’s because I’ve spent the summer running around like a hobo with a free train ticket! It’s been my first summer traveling in my Class C motor home and my adventures have been very memorable.

The first trip was to visit a niece in South Carolina and while I loved visiting with her family, the monsoon I traveled through to get there was like a baptism by fire. Driving a new-to-me motorhome through traffic during horrific weather forced me to learn the ropes rather quickly. (More can be found on that trip here.)

Trip #2 was a weekend event with Sisters on the Fly in Gettysburg, PA. It was my first outing with this group and I absolutely loved it despite the torrential downpour that forced us to evacuate campground due to flash flooding!  Even with the setback, we were out and in a new campground in under 3 hours. The ladies in this group joined together and helped each other like real troopers. My RV did great and I was very glad I was inside, dry and warm. The rain didn’t stop us from eating (a lot!) and getting to know the many fascinating and wonderful women from the area. I was accepted like I’d been one of them for years. From that point on, I knew I was a Sister for life. Continue reading

Choosing the right RV for you!

I belong to some wonderful RV groups for women, one in particular that has over 12 thousand members! (see more here) It’s very common for a member to start a thread asking others what type of RV they have and why they chose that style. I thought an article about the different types of RVs might be helpful for those who want to enjoy the RV lifestyle, but aren’t sure where to start. I personally have camped in each of these styles over the last 50 years. They each have plusses and minuses, but to an RV enthusiast, even a “bad” RV is better than a hotel!

Travel trailers or TTs are trailers that are hauled behind a truck or car. They vary in size from the very small T@B style campers to huge models that could easily serve as a permanent home.

PROs: Cost-There are many used TTs on the market and the prices can range from a couple of thousand to $80K or more. There are also a lot of floor plans available which makes it easier to find the one perfect for your needs. Great for camping long term-You can unhitch your TT and use your car/truck for running around.
CONs: They can be difficult to haul due to swaying on the highway. Continue reading

15 Reasons to love the RV Lifestyle!

If I had a nickel for everyone who’s questioned my sanity when I tell them I bought an RV, I’d have a lot of nickels. People who’ve never camped or enjoyed the RV life can’t understand why some people love it. One friend said, “You can stay in a lot of Hampton Inns for what you’d pay for an RV.” While that is true, to an avid RV enthusiast, we see someone staying in a Hampton Inn and think, “Man, for the money they spent on that trip, they could have bought an RV!”

Since many who camp hear this comment frequently, I decided to poll a group of RV enthusiast and ask them why they prefer the RV lifestyle. If you’ve ever wondered why people like to RV, here are their answers:

  1. Cleanliness “I know who slept in my bed the night before. And who drooled on the pillows!”Probably the most stated reason involved cleanliness and in particular, bed bugs! It’s odd how people won’t buy a used mattress that was previously owned by one person, yet they’ll sleep on a mattress in a hotel room that’s had hundreds if not thousands of strangers rolling around on it for years. In recent years, the stories of bedbugs being found in even the nicest of hotels has many people opting to bring their bed with them when they travel.
  2. Continue reading

14 Things I learned on my first solo trip

I’ve been RVing since I was 7 years old. My parents were teachers and we traveled all over the country during our summer vacations. When I married my husband, we continued the tradition for almost 4 decades. I’ve traveled in everything from pop-up campers, to travel trailers, to fifth wheel campers, and motor homes. I’ve done the RV life for almost 50 years. BUT, I never did the driving or setting up. When I was a child, my father did those things and after I was married, my husband took care of those chores while I took care of everything else. I made the reservations, did the navigating, packed everything, prepared all the meals, took care of everything inside…come to think of it, I got the short end of the stick. Nonetheless, while I knew what had to be done to set up, I never actually did it myself. I also had traveled across the country more than once, but I’d never taken the wheel.

I was kind of like that person who thought they could swim because they saw someone do it once.

So when my husband died in November of 2016 and I decided to start RVing again, I was very confident in my abilities and experiences as far as RV life was concerned. After all, I had thousands of miles and hundreds of campgrounds under my belt. How hard could it be?

I bought a 24 foot, class C motor home, spent weeks purchasing what I needed to stock up and then headed out on my first trip.

 

I was a little nervous, but determined to tame the beast, to master the challenge…I was woman, hear me roar!

Okay, you probably get the picture.

I climbed into my RV with my 83 year-old mother and started our 300 mile journey to visit my niece and her family in South Carolina. (I still consider this a solo trip as my mother was unable to help with anything and actually added some additional caregiving duties) Things went smoothly until the rain hit—I’m talking a hillbilly hurricane—and all the people in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina decided to drive on route 77 at the same time.

That’s when things got a little twitchy. Continue reading

How to make a Joy List

Everyone has probably heard of a “Bucket List,” the phrase used to describe a list of things a person hopes to do before they die. While the concept of listing out things I’d like to do is appealing, the entire “before I die” part always depressed me. In the back of my mind was the thought that the moment I completed the list my life was over-or at least all the fun stuff was.  For me, the idea of a Bucket List was both static and definitive so when I found myself alone after the death of my husband, I decided to make a Joy List instead.

“How is that different?” you ask. Probably the best way to differentiate between the two is by using examples: I enjoy reading, but I wouldn’t put on a Bucket List “Read a book” because it’s not something I’d only do once. Another example might involve flowers. Flowers bring me joy, but I wouldn’t list “Put in a flower garden” on a Bucket List because that implies planting some posies then checking that off the list. A Bucket List contains things you want to do before you die. A Joy List contains things that bring joy to your life now and it can be continually updated as you journey through life. See the difference?

How to build a Joy List Continue reading

Granny’s a Groupie!

good-grief

In the few months since my husband passed away, I discovered something about myself: It’s not that I spend too much time on Facebook (I already knew that), and it wasn’t that there’s nothing I like to watch on TV (which might be the reason I spend too much time on Facebook.)

NOPE!

What I discovered was that I love belonging to groups with other like-minded individuals.

I should have realized this years ago when I joined a writer’s group with other historical authors. Those ladies became some of my closest friends long before my husband became ill. And then there was the caregivers group for those whose loved ones had Lewy Body Dementia. I never would have made it without that group of warriors.

Now, I’m in a new phase of life and I’ve stumbled upon another fantastic support system for women who like to travel and camp.

YIPEE! A plethora of travel groups just for women!
Continue reading