Online dating has become an accepted and acceptable means of meeting potential romantic partners. However, there are unscrupulous con artists ready to take advantage of unwary individuals. If you think you are being targeted by a con artist, or have actually been ripped off, you can report the scam. You may be able to recover some of the money you lost, as well as prevent others from becoming victims of the same scam.
Stop all communication with the con artist. Forward all future communication received from the con artist to the proper authorities. This includes your local police and federal authorities, as well as your embassy and the embassy of the con artist.
Gather your documentation. This includes copies of e-mail exchanges between you and the con artist, phone logs (your phone company can supply a log of calls from your account), receipts for any money or gifts you've sent, the address where the money and gifts were sent, and any information about the con artist, including photos, name and address. Include your complete contact information and a copy of your passport (if applicable) when submitting your complaint.
Submit your documentation and complaint to the authorities. This includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation and your local police. You also should file a complaint with your embassy and the embassy of the country of the con artist. File a complaint with the con artist's dating service Web site, as well as with the ISP.
Protect yourself from future scams or retaliation. Place a fraud alert on your credit report. Change your e-mail address. Cancel any credit cards and close any bank accounts used to send payments to the con artist. Changing your telephone number and even moving to another location are extreme measures to consider only if you think your life is in danger.
- Do not send original documents with your complaint. Make photocopies of everything and send those instead.
- File your complaint only through official channels. Complaints filed elsewhere might not reach the proper authorities.
- If you mail in your complaint, do so by certified mail. If you submit your complaint by e-mail, print out a copy of the complaint for your records.
- If the con artist's company is based in the United States or Canada, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau along with your official complaints.
- Most Web sites will include a link with contact information. Use that to contact the ISP for the con artist's dating service Web site.