When Using Dating Apps look out for Scammers


When Using Dating Apps look out for Scammers

Only two years ago did steamy, hookup app Tinder hit smart phones across the nation. Today, they claim one billion matches among users. But not everyone on the app is who their profile says. 21 year old Kristin Shotwell, a junior at the University of North Carolina, was one day approached by a friend who showed her a profile, using her picture, of some girl named “Kim.” It said Shotwell was on the University of Georgia in Athens, when in fact she was on her own campus. Her friend texted her a screenshot of the Tinder profile. Shotwell told NBC News, “That is when it hit home, when I saw my face on a bio that had nothing to do with me.” Of course con artists have used love as a ploy forever. But dating apps are making scams much easier to pull off.  All a computer savvy con artist has to do is piece together a profile from information found on the internet, a photo here, a little information there and viola. For Shotwell, the profile and other photos were acquired from her Facebook page. But she says she made all of her photos private. The Internet Crime Complaint Center follows such crimes. The multi-agency entity says since 2012, dating app and website scams have cost Americans $55 million.

Though relatively new, Tinder boasts 10 million users. It has been so popular, corporate giant IAC recently bought more stock in the company. It is already a majority holder. Yet it felt the need to acquire another 10% to the tune of $500 million. Still, though popular, it may be a playground for charlatans. At this point, there is no way of knowing. It’s too new to have any statistics, yet. Security response manager Satnam Narang, from internet security giant Symantec told NBC News, “Because there are so many people using the app, it’s a ripe target for scammers.” Tinder matches you up with other users. You can select either to accept or reject them. But if a swim suit model or a shirtless man with a six pack responds very excitedly to your acceptance, you could be up against a bot. Bots are software that can give canned responses to questions. Some are easy to notice. They aren’t the best conversationalists. Ask something simple or even out of the ordinary and you are liable to foul them up. Still, every once in a while one slips under the radar. NTT Com Security consultant Chris Camejo said, “People are suckers when it comes to relationships. Show a guy a picture of a pretty girl and he will do pretty much anything.”

Many security experts agree. There are usually two types of scams you can run on a dating website. The first one is as mentioned, using bots. This is a low-quality, less time consuming, but high volume method. These scams are designed to deliver malware. Some also get users to adult websites. There are users on Tinder have reported, for instance, that after accepting a fake profile, they were brought to a game called “Castle Cash.” But Tinder in an email to NBC News said they were “aware of the accounts in question and are taking the necessary steps to remove them.” The other strategy is to have a fake profile, make contact and work a person, in order to get access to their money. This is analogous to the old swindle where a supposed U.S. serviceman, who after exchanging letters for some time, asks for a loan to buy a plane ticket, in order to meet in person. But once they receive the money, they never show up. Though Tinder has not had this kind of thing happen yet, other sites have. FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth in an interview on NBC said that these scams come from all over the world. Two Colorado women recently bilked 384 online daters out of $1 million, all told. Foxworth said that for the victims, “The emotions that they display range from anger to severe sadness and depression, and often times they criticize themselves for being duped out of their money.” He added, “It’s crushing emotionally and it can be crushing to them financially. It takes a toll.” Some aren’t outright financial cons, but instead mere hijinks. The scammer may be angry, lonely or just plain bored. Of course, it is important to be on your guard when using these sites. Most people are honest. But if you just get tripped up by a false profile, laugh it off. If they ask you for money get rid of them immediately, and report it if you can. For more on this subject read, How to Avoid On-line Dating Scams by Mitch Conway.

Don’t go for the Aggressive Attorney when Divorcing


Don’t go for the Aggressive Attorney when Divorcing

When we are hurt, or worried about assets or child custody, we may consider getting an aggressive attorney to try and safeguard our interests. It may even go beyond that. You could be hurt, and lashing out in revenge. Whatever your reasoning, don’t consider an aggressive attorney. If you think hiring a “pit bull” lawyer is going to help you, think again. The trouble is those “fighter” attorneys are just argumentative. They may be brash, pushy, arrogant, and rearing for a fight, but that doesn’t mean the judge is going to respect them. In fact, just the opposite may be true. Now, who you thought would be a good advocate turns out to be a liability. If the judge is biased against your attorney, it could definitely impact the case. Another issue is billing. These types of lawyers want to make as much as possible. That means billing you for as many hours as they can. Even if they have lower rates, they could get you in legal fees. Another consideration is the more issues you have to fight over the more expensive it is going to be. So a “pit bull” may drum up trouble just to pocket more of your money. It also means, the more your side fights, the more the other side has to. Lots of money gets siphoned away in bickering and legal proceedings, as a result. The marital estate dwindles, bad news for both of you.

If both attorneys are belligerent “fighters” this could further prolong matters. There is one thing you can say about divorce; those involved never cease to find ways to suck away your money. There are even attorney fee contributions to make things level, should your ex have less access to funds than you. Sanctions could also force you to pay your spouse, further depleting the estate. Some say aggressive attorneys can be found filing motions that don’t make any sense, and prolong the case in order to make sure they get the most out of it, financially. If you have children, you may be setting a bad atmosphere with your ex in which to co-parent in. The divorce will set the tone moving forward. You might make your ex angrier, so that they are terrible to deal with whenever they come to pick up the kids. Forget it if you want to switch weekends. If you and your ex’s lawyers get into a tit-for-tat situation, there is no way to predict when it might end. A short divorce time is about six months. But there are divorces that drag on for two, three, even five years. At that point both of you just want it over with. You want normalcy. You want a chance to start your life over again. But the longer the divorce is prolonged, the longer you will have to put that time off. Plus all the money you wasted. You wonder if it was worth it.

Seek out an attorney that is going to look after your best interests. It should be someone effective but also level headed. Look for an attorney that wants the divorce to be resolved in a fair and equitable manner. You want someone who will take what is important for you and fight for that. You don’t want someone who just wants to win. One strategy “pit bull” lawyers employ is to make things so expensive, that the other side gives up. But you both lose in this situation. Plus you both come off angry which will set the tone for any future relations, should children be in the mix. You may be bitter and worried that you won’t get the things you need, like custody or child support. But make sure you have someone who is going to do the right thing, not play dirty just to win. Be careful when you go to select an attorney, and don’t be afraid to walk away from one or get a new one, if yours turns out different than you thought. If you believe you have this type of attorney, make the switch sooner rather than later. Good communication, mutual respect and trust are essential to the client-attorney relationship. Look for these traits and your divorce will come off better than you thought. For more legal advice read, The Guide to a Smart Divorce- Experts’ advice for surviving divorce by Kurt Groesser, Jan Parsons, Kim Langelaar, and David Heckenbach Esq.

The Most Expensive Divorce in History


A court in Switzerland has just handed down the most expensive divorce settlement in history. Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev was ordered to pay his ex-wife over $4.5 billion. Both the oligarch and his ex-wife received papers from the Geneva Tribunal of First Instance stating that the owner of AS Monaco, a popular French soccer club, must hand over the equivalent of $4,509,375,184.80 or 4,020,555,987.80 Swiss francs to ex-spouse Elena Rybolovleva who currently resides in Geneva. Both are age 47.  That isn’t all. The court also granted the ex-wife property. First, two luxurious chalets located in Gstaad, Switzerland worth $146 million or 130.5 million francs. Another piece of property was located in the tony Cologny district of Geneva. The couple had lived there with their daughter, now 13. They also have another adult daughter by the name of Ekaterina. Marc Bonnant, the ex-wife’s lawyer, called the ruling “the most expensive divorce in history,” certainly the biggest settlement the world over ever in history.  Tetiana Bersheda, Rybolovleva’s lawyer, said that the price tag is likely to be brought down in appeals that she is expected to file. Bersheda said in a statement, “There will definitely be a new appellate review and therefore this judgment is not final given the existence of two levels of appeal in Switzerland.”

Rybolovlev is known as the “fertilizer king” and was once the 79th richest person in the world. According to the Forbes Billionaires List he now ranks at 147th. His fortune is thought to be worth $8.8 billion. He made his money in potash mining. The husband and wife met where many couples do, in university, in the city of Perm, Russia. They fell in love and married in 1987. Divorce papers were filed in 2008 when Forbes said the oligarch was worth $12.8 billion. Rybolovlev’s assets were initially frozen in Switzerland and abroad by the court. Rybolovleva now lives in Cyprus. His frozen assets may hurt her as well, as there stands no legal aid treaty between Cyprus and Switzerland. The oligarch and his adult daughter currently hold some of the most expensive real estate in the U.S. including a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida and an apartment at Central Park West in Manhattan. Certainly divorces are expensive nowadays, but nothing to this extent for most people. Still, at around four billion dollars left, certainly Rybolovlev won’t be in the poor house for long. Even though billionaires seem to have lives so far away from our own and even though divorce is a terrible thing for anyone to go through, it feels good to know at least that those at the very top of the world still have a lot of the same problems that ordinary people do. Of course, losing your shirt in a divorce may be more devastating than half a fortune that still keeps you in league with other billionaires. Most people who get divorced often struggle financially afterward because of it. Still, having to hand over that much, if in fact that’s what will happen, has got to hurt. To learn more about the financial aspect of divorce, read Divorce & Money: How to Make the Best Financial Decisions During Divorce by Attorney Violet Woodhouse, CFP and Dale Fetherling.

Getting Divorced Later In Life Usually Means Greater Financial Losses

elderly divorce

The older you are when you get a divorce, the more you potentially have to lose.  Take into careful consideration that you will have less working years ahead of you to earn back whatever money you lose in the divorce.  Also, in terms of alimony, part of the decision is based on how long the marriage lasted, so the more years invested in the marriage, usually the more money and financial assets are distributed from the higher-earner to the lower-income party.  If you’re the lower-earner, then perhaps you will be better off from the divorce, but often it’s both parties who lose out financially.  The higher-earner has to spend more of their income on the cost of the divorce, and this is often taken from equitable distribution, so some of that money could also be taken from the alimony.  Both parties would maintain more money and assets if they remained together.  Of course, if two people are very unhappy together, it might be worth the financial loss for both parties to attain the individual freedom they desire.

Because of the potential financial losses of divorcing later in life, divorcees may have to work later in life than they had originally planned, having to hold off on retirement until they have earned back some of what they’ve lost in the divorce process.  A divorce for economically secure individuals may play in their favor because they can achieve the freedom they want without suffering too much financially.  However, for those who are not as well-off, a divorce can create turmoil or at least increased financial stress in their lives.