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Instead of finding a middle-aged Coloradan, the widow found a college-aged Ghanaian.
The widow's story is a classic case of a romance scam. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as romance scams are grossly underreported.
Red Flags to Watch Out For Red flags that your so-called "match" could be a romance scammer include the following: Taking It Offline.
Your match presses you to leave the dating site and persuades you to communicate via personal email or instant messaging. Because scammers know that online dating sites are able to surveil members and oust those who display questionable behavior or attempt to commit a scam. Not getting caught is important to the scammer, as he or she will want to "troll" the site again for fresh victims when he or she is done with you. Your match gives every appearance of living high on the hog--profile pictures of mansions, luxury cars, exotic destinations, and so on, yet persuades you to loan him or her money.
By stealing the identity of a wealthy person, the scammer masquerades as a man or woman of means. Poor grammar, wonky sentence structure, or odd word choices could spell a foreign scammer.
This is especially true when your match claims to be well-educated and tries to pass him- or herself off as a native speaker. Your match finds every excuse not to meet face to face. Many scammers run their operations out of a foreign country, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Russia, or the Philippines, even though their profiles may indicate that they're geographically nearby.