During my 18 years combating cybercrime, I have never seen so many people fall victim to romantic scams as I’ve seen in the past year. You might think the victims are naïve. But this would be a narrow point of view. Besides, it does not help in any way to criminalize the victim.

Nobody wants to be scammed. We need to understand that cyber criminals are very effective and very precise when it comes to hunting their prey. The criminals are such powerful predators that the victims have no chance to escape after they have been caught in the psychological trap. Only 1% of the victims were able “to wake up and smell the coffee” after having been involved in a romantic scheme. That’s how competent the scammers are, showing that not all victims are fools.

The best tool against romantic scams is information. I strongly encourage anyone engaged with a potential online partner, to look up these people in the digital world first. There is no better place to start than this.

People who date online and then get married are less likely to see their marriages fail, and have slightly higher marital satisfaction rates than couples who met offline, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Of couples who got together online, 5.9% broke up, versus 7.6% of those who met offline, the study found. Of 19,131 couples who met online and got married, only around 7% were either separated or divorced. The overall U.S. divorce rate is 40% to 50%.

However, like with anything else you need to be prepared. And here is a tip. Go find somebody you really like and after a couple of weeks, if you think that they might be the right one you can hire a private detective who will be able to identify if the person you are talking to is really who he or she says they are.

I have traced  hundreds of profiles on the internet and I can tell you that all of them were traceable. So if you do this you won’t end up the next victim, you’ll be one of the lucky ones.

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