If you received an inbox message from a young woman looking for love, be very cautious. She might be trying to trick you into helping with an internet scam.
This is a version of the infamous "Nigerian 419" scam. Most of us have received an email offering a huge sum of money in exchange for helping transfer funds from a foreign bank. And most of us realize right away that it's a scam, and simply delete it. But as we grow more wary, the scammers behind the emails (who really are from Lagos, Nigeria) grow more creative. Most Americans now realize that wiring money out of the country is potentially dangerous. So the scammers now try to recruit unsuspecting Americans as go-betweens.
Lonely people, susceptible to such advances, may respond to these messages. The scammer appears to fall in love with them. As a "relationship" seems to develop, they believe they have found love online. The scammer then convinces this American mark to deposit a check sent to them, and transfer it to them in another country. They might be told that the money is for emergency funds for disaster relief, medical expenses, or some other dire need. However, the money comes from another scam victim, who thinks they are safely sending it to an American bank account. Little do they know that the recipient will simply transfer the funds directly to the scammer.
According to this article on Wikipedia, faith-related social networks like Beliefnet are prime targets because the scammers assume users are more complacent (harumph!), and users may be duped by a scammer's pretext of faith. Let's show them that Beliefnet members are smarter, and will not fall for their tricks!
Here are some ways to protect yourself:
--Make financial donations for disasters and emergencies ONLY through registered 501-c-3 charities found at www.guidestar.org.
--Before you get too deeply involved with someone online, get their real name, street address and phone number, and check them out.
--If your online romantic interest asks for money for ANY reason, be suspicious.
--Do not cash checks or money orders sent to you by people you only know from the internet.
--Never transfer money to someone you only know from the internet, especially in another country.