Online dating has long ago become a big part of our lives, and even though most of us are aware of many success stories, we all know about romance scams.
Scams on the Internet are there from their beginnings, but as the US Federal Trade Commission states, these kinds of crimes on dating sites have been on the rise since 2016, so that’s why we’ll go through this in-depth today.
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Common Online Dating Scams To Be Aware Of
You can find romance scams all over social media, with people creating profiles on all platforms just to scam, but as you would expect, dating sites and apps are where most of these scams occur
While it’s true that any one of us could be a victim of a romance scammer, it seems like more often than not, the victims tend to be older people, which unfortunately isn’t surprising.
A lot of older people are lonely and dating sites are something that’s available to everyone, and it’s easy to access.
But, a lot of these people weren’t that young when technology like this became popular, so even though they know how to use it, that doesn’t mean that they are particularly savvy.
Older people are also more likely to have more money, usually, money that they are saving and not really using, so it usually just sits in their bank account.
Scammers look out mostly for that, and older people sometimes don’t even know what things like cryptocurrency or a wire transfer are.
But, even if you are not really old, you still are susceptible to this type of crime.
Scammers play on your emotions, and they usually catch you in your most vulnerable state, so that’s why no matter what, you have to be careful on all social media sites and be aware of catfishing and fraudsters.
So, let’s see what are the most common types of scams on dating websites:
1. Military Dating Scam
A military dating scam is a scam where a person uses the identity of a soldier and introduces themselves as that soldier.
Usually, these dating profiles are completely fake.
But, these ones are usually a bit hard to recognize, as their story on online dating sites sounds very legitimate.
The most common story they use is that they are older veterans, nearly at the end of their careers, and the way they talk really gives out the impression that they are a soldier.
They talk like a soldier would, they use jargon and even throw out base locations.
And, most often, it just happens that they have been widowed for quite some time now.
Once they set a good connection with you – that’s when they start asking for money.
They usually have good reasons for doing so, or at least the reasons they tell seem to be completely legit.
The secret behind this is the fact that they work with people who pose as their doctors and lawyers.
And because they are not alone, but rather work in a team, it’s very hard to uncover this kind of criminal activity.
If this seems too outrageous to be true – think again.
This kind of scam is so common among Americans, and law enforcement has seen so many of these cases, that the US Army now has a fact sheet that you can follow, as it’s on how you can spot this kind of scammer.
2. Scammers Demanding Intimate Activity
Sometimes, the main reason behind scamming is getting nude photos or video content from the victims.
Here’s how that usually happens.
The scammer will create fake profiles on multiple social media platforms, and they will add you and follow you on all of them, in order to create a more intimate bond.
They will share details about themselves, but they will also ask for much personal information from you.
They will mainly act like you would expect a potential love interest to act with you – they will be flirty and suggestive.
Also, the initial talking stage and the whole “getting to know each other” part will take very long.
Remember, these people are trying to gain your full trust, as they are aiming to get your intimate photos.
After some time, the conversation will get from being just suggestive to explicitly asking for either nude photos, or videos of you doing something sexual.
But, once it comes to that, they will usually say that their camera is broken or that something went wrong so they couldn’t send theirs.
After that, it’s very likely that they will say who they are, and they will start threatening to share the video or images unless you send them money.
But, that won’t stop after one payment, it will continue with the amounts increasing, or even them asking for financial information from you, and this usually goes on until the person they scammed gives up.
And once they do share the video or the photos, they could still continue to earn money from it.
3. Fake Dating Sites
There are dating sites that are actually made to be a scam and online dating apps that are used to get personal information from people who came to pursue an online relationship.
Before you panic – don’t worry, none of the most popular sites and apps are legitimate, so if you’re on Tinder, you’re most definitely safe from this type of scam.
But, if you often visit less popular dating sites, this might be a red flag that you should consider
Usually, you can see signs of this scam when you start signing up for this type of site.
Many sites will have a questionnaire you answer when creating a profile, and that’s not going to be out of the ordinary, but as these sites are made to scam you, the type of information they ask for is going to be a bit different.
For example, there might be a question about your social security number or things like parents’ birthdays.
No matter what they claim you will get for completing these questions, like gift cards or something of that nature, do not give out your credit card information or anything that could lead to other private information.
Also, be aware of surveys appearing in the text messages, if the dating service you’re using has that feature, as they can get that type of info from there, too.
4. Code Verification Scams
Now, this is a scam that you should look out for if you’re on Tinder.
As you might know, on Tinder, you need to verify that it’s really you who’s using the profile, and that’s usually done when you start using this dating app.
But, sometimes, a match might ask you to verify your profile in some other way, usually sending a link from a third-party website, where you’ll be asked about your personal data, like your full name, phone number, and even some more personal information.
This is what you should avoid if it happens.
While it’s okay for people to want to verify that the person they’re talking to is real, it should definitely be suspicious if you’re asked about things like that.
So, after you’ve done the official Tinder verification and got your blue checkmark, be wary of all other kinds of verification, especially if it’s sent by matches, as it’s most likely some form of scam.
5. Malware Scams
Malware scams are scams where you are usually asked to click some link that will take you to another site, and by going there, you automatically download malware to your device.
This can happen to you anywhere, so be careful whenever someone new sends you some kind of a link.
The result of these scams is usually identity theft or some kind of financial fraud, so be very careful when it comes to the links you get sent by other people.
6. Inheritance Scams
You might think this type of scam is just a dramatic story no one really falls for, but actually, it does happen.
Inheritance scams are scams where the victim will be told the following story – the scammer has millions inherited from a grandmother, or even something like a third cousin twice removed, but the condition is that they have to get married first.
That’s where you come in.
But, in order for you to get married and for the inheritance to be moved from their country to the US, a lot of taxes need to be paid, and they will also need a plane ticket.
You will be asked to pay for all of that, and if you do, well, that’s the last you will hear from your supposed future spouse.
7. Photo Scams
When it comes to photo scams, what usually happens is that the scammers are asking for some personal data of yours in order to send you intimate photos of them.
The photos will either never get sent, or you might get photos of a person that is not the person you’re talking with.
So, besides being careful when sending your own nudes, you have to be careful even with receiving them, as this type of scam is very common.
What are the signs of an online dating scammer?
Even though different people operate differently, and you might get scammed even if you follow all the rules and be aware of everything that could be a red flag, you still might get scammed somehow.
But, if you do know what signs to look out for, the chances will get wax lower, so let’s see what these signs are:
1. Rush To Get Off The Dating App
If the person you’re talking to is very eager to rush off the dating app and start talking somewhere else, that should definitely be suspicious.
Of course, everyone would want to transfer from a dating app to, for example, Instagram or WhatsApp, but if they are very pushy about it and they want to do it very soon after matching, that could be a sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
Especially if they are asking to chat on an app that involves you giving them your number.
So, before you transfer your conversation somewhere else, be sure that you know who and what this person is.
If your match seems very interested in your private life and its details very fast into your contact, while not providing that kind of information about themselves, that could be a red flag.
To be honest, it’s a general red flag for that person, even if they are not a scammer.
But, if they start asking very personal questions, like birthdays of your family members and other things irrelevant to your dating life, that’s definitely something to be aware of.
Again, this is a red flag in general, but it can also be a sign of a scammer if the story they tell you keeps having inconsistencies.
If you catch them in a lie, if the story doesn’t add up, that might mean that it’s not even true and they are just using it to get the victim’s trust.
So, if you catch multiple inconsistencies – don’t be afraid to ask questions.
4. Suspicious Profile Photo
You can gather a lot from looking at your suitor’s profile picture – how they look, how old they are, what they like to wear, and whether they might be a scammer.
When it comes to romance fraud and the scammer’s profile photos, you can usually see them going from one extreme to the other.
Their profile photo can either be very bad quality like they downloaded them years ago, or they could look like professional, modeling photos.
The best way to tackle what’s going on with that is to do a reverse image search on Google and see what comes up.
But, try not to swipe right when you see something like this.
5. No Digital Footprint To back Them Up
While not all people need to have an Instagram and a Twitter in order to look real, it can be a warning sign if there’s no digital footprint that you can follow to find something more about your potential partner.
If you can’t find a name that matches the profile picture you’ve been talking to, then you might be a victim of internet dating scams.
6. Borrowed Text
Many scammers will likely go for more than one person to scam, and as that can get very tiring, many of them will just use the same copied and pasted text when sending messages.
They might even have another account for scamming, or they might copy the text from another scammer.
Either way, if the text you get seems suspiciously curated and not very intuitive, it could be one of the internet dating scams in front of you.
7. Avoiding Video Calls And Real-Life Meetings
People who avoid not only meeting in real life but also having a video call can be a part of a love scam.
People who do online romance scams tend to avoid this as they can’t fake their identity on a video call, but they can through pictures, so even though your match might have sent photos, and they also have an Instagram account with their photos, that doesn’t have to mean much.
8. They Lead Very Dramatic Lives
Just as mentioned with inheritance scams, people who are a scammer in dating site environments tend to tell the most outrages stories.
These stories are usually used as a reason for taking your money and asking for different different favors from you.
So, more often than not, if a story seems too good to be true, it usually is.
9. Their Home Is Very Far From You
Getting along with people who live far away on dating apps is not always a bad sign.
It happens, and many success stories involve that.
But, if the person allegedly lives far away, and they use that as an excuse to get money from you – for plane tickets, for example, it could be a warning sign.
I mean, they could really be living somewhere far away, but even if you buy them the ticket, or get over there yourself – you probably will never meet them.
10. They Ask For Money Or Bank Account Directly
If this happens, if someone just directly asks for your money or bank information directly, you shouldn’t think twice about it.
There is no reason why someone might need to know that about you, especially on a dating site.
So, if they ask directly, make sure to cut them off as soon as possible.
Tips For Staying Safe While Online Dating
Now that you know what to look out for, here are some tips that you should follow in order to avoid online dating scams for money or anything else:
- Don’t accept friend and follow requests from people who you don’t know and have no contacts in common with
- Things like your last name and your job shoould’t be on your dating profiles, as these simple bits of information can be used by scammers
- Stay on dating sites and apps that are popular and reputable and not only will you get to meet more people, but you will also spot a scammer more easily
- Avoid sharing phone numbers before meeting people in person, so even if they insist on moving the conversation over to texts of WhatsApp, don’t do it
- Just because it’s you who initiated the contact, doesn’t mean that you’re safe Scammers will make profiles that look like all other regular ones, so you sometimes won’t be able to see the difference while swiping
- When it comes to meeting in person, be very careful, don’t go fast into it and be sure that you know a substantial amount of information before you take any more significant steps
- If you do decide to meetup with someone, be sure to share your location with your closest friends
- Don’t send any type of nude photos or videos if you haven’t already been seeing this person for some more extended amount of time, no matter how tempting it might be in the moment
- If you think that there js a chance that a person scammed you, cut them off immediately
- Just like with compromising photos and videos, avoid sending any type of bank information or gift cards at all costs
As already mentioned, scammers usually go for people who are in vulnerable situations.
So if you’re older, or alone, or a single mother or father who was recently widowed, these are all sensitive groups that scammers usually decide to go for.
If this is you, make sure that you follow everything stated above to be more safe and have a more enjoyable experience.
If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask someone close to you who is more tech-savvy to check out what’s going on, it could save you money as well as nerves.