Kathryn's Blog

7 Years ago today

March 31, 2001, was the day that Drew and I got married.  We met three years earlier, so our 10th anniversary of our first meeting on Match.com is coming up fast, in May.  Here’s one of my favorite pictures from our wedding:
We’ve shared so much life together in 10 years that it seems like we have known each other much longer than that, but also, the time has passed quickly. 


Scams, scams, and more scams

Michelle Singletary writes an excellent article about the “Sweetheart Swindle” of which all singles need to be aware.  See below, I have underlined parts of the article that I think are particularly relevant.

Online dating scammers will tugat your heartstrings and wallets

By Michelle Singletary

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If you’re looking online for a sweetheart, beware: You may find a new meaning for the expression “money can’t buy love.”

The National Consumers League has issued a warning to people looking for love on the Internet to watch out for con artists whose only mission is to separate them from their cash.

“Scammers lurk in chat rooms and on online dating sites, attempting to earn someone’s affections and trust so that they can persuade him or her to send money,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.

The league, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, is calling such scams the “Sweetheart Swindle.” It’s a simple scheme, really. The con artist spends time nurturing a relationship. The goal of this online courtship, Greenberg said, is to eventually get the victim to repeatedly send cash.

Greenberg said the group’s Fraud Center only began tracking this type of scam last summer. However, it’s become so pervasive that the organization says it has moved into its top 10 list of scams. Last year the average lovesick victim lost more than $3,000, according to complaints logged at the center’s Web site (http://www.fraud.org).

The scams vary but the typical swindler will begin to weave a tale of how he (or she) has gotten into a financial jam, Greenberg said. Feeling sorry for their online lover, the victim eventually sends money.

In one case, a woman gave $35,000 to a man she met on Match.com, who claimed he was from her hometown of Kansas City, Mo. He said he worked as an engineer in Nigeria. For four months the two had long online exchanges, much like you have at the beginning of a courtship. He even sent her flowers and professed his love for her.

Then the man began requesting money to pay for medical care for his 11-year-old son, whom he claimed had a congenital heart condition.

It was all a con. Eventually the woman took out a second mortgage on her home to pay off the credit cards she used to get advances to send him money.

“I’m not a stupid woman,” she told me in an interview. “I have a master’s degree. I hold down a good job.”

But, she said, she felt sorry for the kid. “That was where my heart strings were.”

If you’re inclined to be harsh on these victims, don’t be so smug to think this couldn’t happen to you, Greenberg said.

“Scammers are really good at figuring out and preying on the vulnerabilities of the people they are scamming,” she said.

The Consumers League said if you want to avoid heartache from a sweet-talking swindler, look for these red flags:

  * You are being asked for money.

  * There is a confession of love soon after you begin communicating.

  * The person claims to be a U.S. citizen who is living abroad. Or they pump up their professional credentials.

  * The person wants you to help with their business or get involved in a business deal.

    Greenberg advises that you give money only to someone you’ve met in person, have known for a long time and can truly trust.

    I would suggest that you make it a personal money rule not to give or loan a significant amount of cash to anyone you’re romantically interested in.

    If your honey needs money, look at the situation as an opportunity to see how he or she handles a financial crisis. When faced with an unplanned expense, does your Pookey have to resort to borrowing the money?

    Step back from your emotions and you will gain some important information about a person you may view as a potential spouse.

    I’m not saying never give any money to your boo (that’s the hip way of referring to your romantic companion). Of course, you will trade off paying for dates or transferring a little money between the two of you. But I want to emphasize it should be only a little money.

    Whether you are dating in person or online, you should not be paying the person’s rent, car note or any other bill. Don’t give her money to get her hair done. Don’t lend or give him money to fix his car. These are all expenses that your sweetheart should be paying without your help.

    And certainly don’t ever borrow money to help out your sweetie, no matter how desperate the situation seems. If they need financial assistance, help them find another resource.

    Don’t get a cash advance on your credit card. Don’t take a loan against your 401(k). And for goodness sake, don’t borrow against your home.

    Bailing out your boo is not an indication of your love. It’s an indication you’re dating someone who needs to budget or get another job (or a job) or move back home with his or her mama.


How to marry a millionaire (a woman!)

Here you go, rich ladies and gorgeous men, a dating site just for you.  PocketChange.com hosts a speed dating section: Men 35 and under can apply, based solely on appearance.  They must submit 5 photos for judgment.  Women must be over 35 can apply,and must qualify (solely based on wealth) in one of four ways: Must make more than $500K, have liquid assets, entrusted assets, or a divorce settlement of $4MM+.  (I’ll show my ignorance: How much is $4MM?  I guess if I don’t know, I haven’t got it.)


eHarmony tricks of the trade

If you are an eHarmony fan and regular (and readers know that I have definite opinions about eHarmony— just read my postings to find out), you’ll love the resource I just found: A blog dedicated to the tricks, twists, and turns of eHarmony.  I certainly don’t have the time or dedication to figure out how to make eHarmony work better for you, but you may find what you need here. 



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