Sunday, August 12, 2007

Be Safe. Don't be Scammed

While we would like to think that everyone that would frequent a Christian site would be honest and trustworthy, we know that there are those out there who are dishonest.

First, be aware of the most common scam with internet dating. It is generally someone pretending to be a foreign specialist working in Nigeria, UK or some other country. After they establish some quick correspondence with you, they fall in love -- nearly over night. They ask for money for a visa to fly to see you or they ask for money for a plane ticket. Or they ask for money for their sick relatives, or some other tragic event. Or they will tell you that their employer pays them with Money Orders and they can't cash them in Nigeria. They will send you the Money Orders and ask you to deposit them into your bank account and then wire the money to them via Western Union. Usually they say to keep some money for your trouble. Needless to say, those Money Orders are no good, and not even worth the paper they're printed on.

There are several ways to spot these scammers. Here are some things to look for...

They are over eager to get your email address.
They often use language such as ""Hello Dearest," and "Dear Lovely,"
They might claim to be a doctor or engineer, yet there will be misspelled words scattered about.
They use words like "mum" for "mom." This is normal in the UK and other places, but if they are claiming to be in the USA then it is a red flag.
They often say their parent(s) died and they are an orphan.
The profile says they are in the USA - but the first note you get says they are on "business" in Nigeria or the UK.
They seem to fall in love with you overnight after just a couple of emails.
And, of course... the biggest red flag is when they ask for money.

So, how do you stay safe. Here are some suggestions.

First: Use our mail system. Nobody can know anything about you other than what you tell them. Use our mail system until you are 100% comfortable with the other party.
Do not give out your email address or home phone number to anyone until you, again, are 100% comfortable.
Ask us! We have ways to check where someone is logging in from. If in doubt - ask. You can ask here.
Look for descrepencies. Do they claim to be a doctor but have trouble spelling? Do they change their story between messages?
Never, ever, ever... send money to anyone. Did we say "never, ever" yet? Once more... Never, ever, ever send anyone any money. OK?
Get comfortable. Take your time. A real relationship takes time. Don't be in a hurry. Be patient. If that person is the special one they will be here tomorrow.
Did we mention the money thing yet? Don't send money. Ever.

So what we doing to keep you safe?
We review every profile that comes through. We check every IP address. If the application says USA and the IP address shows somewhere else, then that application is deleted and never processed and that IP address is blocked.
We are currently blocking several countries from even accessing our website. That includes some African countries and some from East Asia.
Having said that... we do make mistakes. Some applications do slip through that we missed. So be safe... ask us for verification of anyone and we can re-check. Use our mail system. Ask questions. Look for descrepencies.
And, of course... Don't send anyone money. If anyone asks... report it.