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How to spot, avoid online dating scams

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

An investigation is underway  into the case of a Florida widow who lost her life savings to an online scam.

Law enforcement officials believe that scams like these are operated by sophisticated rings who troll the internet for victims. 

Online romance scams occur more than people realize.

The data is startling, according to the Better Business Bureau in the past three years include 65,000 online dating complaints with an estimate amount of $936 million lost. Victims fall for these scams perpetrated by overly confident individuals. Victims are oftentimes lured into the scam due to loneliness.

There are ways to prevent being scammed online. One way includes using reverse image search. According to BBB of northeast Florida President Tom Stephens one should be vigilant online and be aware of the following:

-Contacting victims: According to Stephens scammers contact you via online through dating sites and lure you in.

-Grooming:  Victims are emotionally lured into a scam; a victim can often take days or as long as years.  

-The sting-: Includes the request for money for personal or medical situation.

-The fraud: Continues for unknown period. 

Search a photo on the internet

There are several ways you can do what's called a reverse search on the internet, and try and locate the origin of a photograph. Search engine giant Google offers its own reverse image lookup that will cross-reference an uploaded photograph with a database of other images online. Here's how:

  • Visit Images.Google.com
  • Click on the camera icon in the search bar.
  • Either upload the image you wish to check, or paste its URL into the field.
  • The results will reveal where, if any place, the image has appeared before.
  • Please note: Google will sometimes list a duplicate image as an original if it has been altered enough to look different.

In addition to Google, there are a range of website that offer similar services. For instance, TinEye.com is a website that will perform a reverse image lookup free of charge. Here's how to use it:

  • Go to TinEye.com
  • Either upload the image or paste the URL you want to check out.
  • It may take a few moments, but the search results will automatically load on your screen.
  • Using TinEye, it's possible the search engine will pull in similar, though not identical, photographs if there isn't a perfect match.

Stephens states that online dating site users should be honest with themselves. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.