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FBI Warns of Online Dating Scams Featuring Fake Verification Sites

The FBI has issued a public service announcement alerting the public to a rise in online dating scams involving fake verification schemes. These scams lure individuals into signing up for seemingly legitimate verification services that claim to protect users from sexual offenders and other criminals. However, these services trap victims in costly monthly subscriptions and misuse their personal data.

The scheme typically starts with fraudsters striking up a romantic relationship with victims on dating platforms. Once a rapport is established, the scammers suggest moving the conversation to what they claim is a safer communication tool. They then provide a link to a verification site, promising a free service that ensures the person's safety by checking against a database of known offenders. “Under the guise of safety, the fraudster provides a link that directs the victim to a website advertising a 'free' verification process to protect against establishing a relationship with predators, such as sex offenders or serial killers," the FBI's announcement explained. The website asks for personal details including name, phone number, email address, and credit card number to complete the process.

Victims who enter their information to undergo this “verification” process soon find themselves redirected to a low-quality dating site and discover unauthorized monthly charges on their credit card statements. This scam is not new and was notably prevalent in 2022, with incidents reported on popular dating platforms like Tinder and Grindr. One instance involved a fraudulent site named "GDAH" (Gender Discrimination and Harassment Safety Global), which claimed to run users’ details through registered offender databases for a fee.

Investigations have uncovered over fifty domains linked to this scheme, utilizing payment processors based in Cyprus. The FBI advises the public to stay vigilant when interacting with new contacts online and recommends several measures to avoid falling prey to these scams:

  • Only open attachments from known contacts after verifying their security.

  • Maintain conversations within dating sites that offer built-in safety features.

  • Report and cease interaction with suspicious profiles.

  • Be cautious of early declarations of affection or requests for personal information.

  • Regularly monitor bank statements for unauthorized charges.

  • Consider using a single, low-limit credit card or virtual cards for online subscriptions.

Victims of such fraudulent schemes are encouraged to report to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at to help prevent further occurrences and assist in tracking down the perpetrators behind these deceptive practices.


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