Thursday, October 9, 2014

Conmen use fake matrimonial profiles to scam prospective grooms seeking arranged marriages

News reports of matrimonial scams are becoming increasingly frequent in India. Undertaken by lone operatives, these cons put up attractive fake profiles on dating and matrimonial sites to lure prospective suitors into online relationships, and then pry small sums of money from them. Once drawn into emotional relationship, the con asks for small sums of money to fund a medical emergency or a friend’s urgent need for cash. The sums are small enough not to arouse suspicion until the con vanishes. When a request for money is made after several months of building an online relationship it becomes difficult for the victim to exhibit a lack of trust by questioning the need for money or denying the request.

Participants on these online matrimonial sites exchange personal information during the get to know each other period. Personal information and pictures may later be used to tarnish reputation for blackmail or revenge. Most of these sites do not offer any validation or verification as to the authenticity of the profiles on the sites. It would not be appropriate to engage with any prospective suitors online without real world verification. Users of matrimonial sites should bear in mind that the conmen have a lot of patience and engage multiple victims simultaneously for months. A request for money is usually a warning indicator.

There was also the interesting case of a man suing a popular matrimonial profile for allegedly putting fake profiles of beautiful girls on their site to lure members to take a paid membership. When the man subscribed and found that none of the attractive girls seemed interested in his profile, he faked several profiles which met their requirements of an ideal groom and found a similar lack of response. This led him to conclude the profiles were faked, and besides having been cheated of the subscription fee, deprived him of his self-confidence.

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