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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14750/love-and-regulation/

Love and Regulation

November 24, 2010 by

In a week when the number-one “consumer rights” issue is the TSA’s groping and assault of air travelers, the nation’s premiere “consumer protection” agency is squarely focused on — warning people about the perils of online dating:

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, warns that scammers sometimes use online dating and social networking sites to try to convince people to send money in the name of love. In a typical scenario, the scam artist creates a fake profile, gains the trust of an online love interest, and then asks that person to wire money—usually to a location outside the United States.

Here are some warning signs that someone you met online could be in it for the money:

  • Wanting to leave the dating site immediately and use personal e-mail or IM accounts.
  • Claiming instant feelings of love.
  • Claiming to be from the United States but currently overseas.
  • Planning to visit, but being unable to do so because of a tragic event.
  • Asking for money to pay for travel, visas or other travel documents, medication, a child or other relative’s hospital bills, recovery from a temporary financial setback, or expenses while a big business deal comes through.
  • Making multiple requests for more money.

The FTC warns consumers that wiring money to someone they haven’t met is the same as sending cash. Once it’s gone, it can’t be recovered.

That last part kills me. The FTC is warning you about something that the agency admits it really can’t do anything about. At least for now. I could see a whole host of new regulations designed to punish people who falsely “claim instant feelings of love” to get their hands on your money. The Bureau of Consumer Protection could establish an entire “jilted lovers” division.

If there’s a serious point to be made here, it’s that “security theater” isn’t limited to the TSA and air travel. Anytime the government claims to be “protecting” you from something, it’s a scam. The FTC spends millions of dollars and employs thousands of people — to tell you not to believe some anonymous weirdo in an online chat room is really in love with you? If you’re the type of person who needs that sort of “protection” from the government, then you have a lot more to worry about than a failed online romance.

{ 3 comments }

Dave Albin November 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm

You mean I should be concerned about “Claiming instant feelings of love”? I do this all the time when the latest government propaganda comes out on TV, et al. I fall head over heals every time……….

Colin Phillips November 25, 2010 at 3:06 am

What we need is for someone with authority to tell us how many online meetings it takes for someone’s claims of feelings of love to be genuine. This is a big project, however, and requires a lot of commitment. For one thing, the bureaucrats doing the “Love Quality Control” standards will need an understanding of humanity. If anyone knows of a way to grow artificial souls, please help us!

Aaron Reese December 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

This is the government providing information. How is that bad? Their warnings and alerts actually save money by making many scams easier to identify for the undereducated and thus forcing scammers to do something else (thus, not as much litigation). Regulating needless things or making laws we don’t need? Sure, that’s bad. But informing the public on how to avoid illegal activity isn’t bad. Ever. Plus, the FTC employs only 1600 people. They’re small for a federal agency.

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