Internet romance schemes victimize innocent people

Glenn W. Peterson

With the continuing advancement of internet technology, incidents of computer crimes in California and across the nation have run rampant. Millions of people have come forward claiming that they have been victims of internet crimes, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Officials state, however, that only 15 percent of all internet crimes are actually reported to law enforcement officers. Other incidents either go undetected or are simply unreported. Although there are many types of online crimes, internet romance schemes stand out as one of the most emotionally devastating.

Romance fraud occurs when predators target people online who are looking for a romantic relationship or friendship. The victims may be found in various chatrooms or on dating websites, and are typically females over the age of 40. When people find a potential relationship online, they may not realize that the person they are talking to could be trying to take advantage of them. In some cases, the predator may develop a relationship with the victim and build up enough trust to where the two can meet in person. Other situations may occur where the relationship takes place exclusively online.

According to AARP, the criminal may extract personal information from the victim once trust has been developed. This includes information regarding property and finances. The perpetrator may also claim that he or she has some type of ailment or condition and is in need of help with medical expenses. Other situations, such as divorce, family tragedy, car accidents or other tragedies can be used as ploys to get money from the victim.