RSN™ Insight: Dating Scam / Identity Theft Alert

You May Not Have Thought About It!

Originally published January 2014, Updated September 2018

But The Information You Share In A Dating Profile Is All An Identity Thief Needs To Steal Your Identity!

Even Worse, The Information You Share With A Scammer Can Almost Guarantee That Your Identity Can Be Stolen!

Scammers are already stealing identities right in front of you!  When they steal photos, they were stealing someone’s identity.  They are stealing your profiles, your details, to scam others.

Yes, it is impersonation, but that is a form of identity theft.

However, what we have recently learned is that many scammers have affiliates, some in the U.S. or Europe that then take that information for purposes of exploiting your information.  They take your personal details:  identity, ID numbers, address and phone numbers, family member names, your date of birth, and bingo – they own your identity.  It’s all they need to get credit cards, loans, and even take over your bank accounts in many cases.

Now, before you freak out, just remember that most of the time, scammers will do nothing with the information that you share, but you will need to be on guard and vigilant about your credit reports and any hints that they did.


Of Course, This Is A Real Risk, And It Is Happening Now!

We encourage you to use an identity theft monitoring service if you have given your information to a scammer!

Here is one service we recommend:

But Regardless Of Who You Use, Protect Yourself Now!

Identity Theft Even Affects Africans Too

From Johannesburg News24:

Identity theft is a real and persistent problem in Africa, and consumers have to be aware that the onus of proof lies with them, Sylvia Papadopoulos, lecturer in the Department of Mercantile, Cyber Law at University of Pretoria told News24.  She said that consumers’ financial records may be seriously impacted by scammers who typically target people with spam e-mails and messages in order to steal online banking details and personal information.

“The effects are devastating: Potentially it can mess up your credit records for years and it takes you years and years to rectify the problem,” said Papadopoulos.

The SA Fraud Prevention Service reported in 2008 that identity theft in SA could exceed one billion in annual losses, while some estimates put UK identity theft at £1.7bn per annum.

Despite the checks and balances at government and private institutions around the world, if identity theft does occur, it is up to the individual to prove that a particular organisation is responsible in the event of financial losses.


Proving responsibility was difficult because of the nature of the crime, Papadopoulos argued.

“It’s a very complex situation: Holding someone liable means you need to prove negligence.”

“Now if I’m negligent and you’re negligent, my claim gets decreased by my own contribution to that. That’s as the law stands in South Africa at the moment,” said Papadopoulos.

Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman recently lost thousands in an apparent SIM swop scam.  Her bank was able to freeze her account, but the thieves managed to get away with about R360 000.  The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said that users are required to care responsibility for their online financial transactions.

“The problem ends up being with the user themselves. We’ve got these apps sitting on your mobile phone or your computer, but it’s out of the banks’ control in terms of where you go and what else you do,” said Kalyani Pillay, CEO of Sabric.

“You need to understand the nature of the crime; you need to understand what you need to take to court to prove the person is guilty.”


Laws & Attraction: Dating an Identity Thief

 From LifeLock:

Most people have had their share of dating horror stories – bad breath, rude behavior, maybe a blind date gone wrong. But what about a date that ends up stealing thousands of dollars?

Imagine finding that perfect someone. The glass slipper fits and the first few months are perfect—romantic dates, deep conversations and maybe even a blissful vacation. And then you find out that special someone has been using your Social Security number to open dozens of new credit cards.

Think it couldn’t happen to you? Whitney K. thought so, too.

Far From a Fairytale

Whitney ended up spending nine months of her life with a man who drove expensive cars, took her on luxurious vacations and stole thousands of dollars of her hard-earned money.

“It kind of hurt; other people tell me how I could be so naive. But they don’t know the lengths this person was going to,”  Whitney explains. Her boyfriend had created fake online profiles, a fake work website and his family was even in on his game. (Whitney became a LifeLock member shortly after these events and was willing to tell her story).

Whitney’s experience is just one of many romance scams. Both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have reported increased incidents of love-struck victims scammed via online dating sites.

Thieves have been known to meet their targets on online dating sites and create an often-charming, but completely imaginary, persona. Lovelorn victims end up sending money, disclosing information and wasting time with a complete façade.

In 2011, a Philadelphia scammer charmed his way into the hearts of several naïve bank workers at many American banks. The goal? Obtain account numbers, Social Security numbers and whatever else he could get.

He selected his prey based on their close proximity to private banking information, and he manipulated his way into getting exactly the information he needed. The man ended up stealing more than $1 million out of existing bank accounts.

Your Evil Step Sister

Even if falling in love with an identity thief seems far-fetched, ‘friendly fraud’ has become a serious problem. Friendly fraud? That’s when somebody you know personally—a friend, significant other, family member or coworker—is living a double life as an identity thief and targets you as the next victim. The scam artist may use your close relationship to takeover your credit or bank accounts

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, in 2011, 47% of account takeover fraud victims reported that they had become targets as a result of ‘friendly fraud’. The percent of account takeover frauds committed through ‘friendly fraud’ increased significantly from the 35% reported in 2010.

Plus, victims of ‘friendly fraud’ cite a mean fraud amount of $3,544 compared to overall fraud victims’ amount of $1,513.

Don’t Be Charmed

Instead of jumping head first into a potentially dangerous relationship, be cautious of these storybook warning signs.

    • Spinning Straw Into Gold: Luxury vehicles, designer clothing and extravagant vacations might be normal for a celebrity, but if your new fling drives a Mercedes but works a 40K job, you might want to start asking questions.
    • A Growing Nose: Not revealing the truth walks a fine line with blatant lying. An aura of secrecy might seem mysterious at first, but it could also mean your love interest is hiding something—like his real identity.
    • Throw Down Your Hair: He loves you, but he can’t afford to come visit you. This is a common scheme that continues to trick enchanted victims. Don’t send money to someone you don’t fully trust.

The bottom line is that an identity thief could be anyone. Privacy is always crucial— no matter how well you know the person.

Real Lifelock Members Sharing Their Stories For Lifelock.

1 “Protect Your Heart From Online Dating Scams.” Better Business Bureau. February 15, 2012. Accessed October 26, 2012.

2 Blumenthal, Jeff. “Identity Theft Perpetrator Used Romance to Get Account Information.” Biz Journals. June 28, 2011. Accessed October 26, 2012.

3 2012 Identity Fraud Survey Report. Javelin Strategy & Research. February 2012.

Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For January – December 2011.” February 2012.

Javelin Strategy & Research. “2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier.” February 2012.




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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. Your National Police or FBI (
  3. The Scars Worldwide Reporting Network HERE or on

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.

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RSN™ Insight: Dating Scam / Identity Theft Alert 1