What Dating Scams Are Popular And How To Avoid Them?
Updated September 28, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
When you are ready to get out into the dating scene, you want to believe that everyone you encounter is in the same boat as you. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage and strength to join an online dating site or social group. With all the energy it took to put yourself out there, you are probably thinking that others feel the same way as you and that everyone is coming from a place of positivity and wanting to find someone special. Unfortunately, there are some dating scams out there, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
A person will make an online profile with false information and pictures they get from online image searches, and this person could be a man posing as a man or a man posing as a woman, or it could be a woman posing as a woman or a woman posing as a man. This individual will wait until someone contacts them on the dating website because it means they already like something about them.
The relationship will start with messages on the website, and may then move out of the website into personal emails and then, perhaps, texts. If the scammer is bold, they may even move into personal phone calls. The scammer will get to know everything they can about the person they are scamming. They may send them gifts, and will romance them and tell them all the things that they want to hear.
As the relationship proceeds, a financial emergency may come up, and the scammer will tell the person being scammed that they need money, but not ask the person for the money. Most of the time, the person being scammed will offer the money because a relationship has been built even without any face-to-face meeting.
Suddenly, those emails, texts, and gifts will stop. The realization of the scam will be too late to do anything because everything that shared is false and there is no way to track down the scammer.
If the person you have met online seems too good to be true, tread cautiously. Make sure that you stay on the website to communicate. If you decide to meet, be sure it is a public place where there are many other people present. If the person you have been communicating with makes excuse after excuse for not being able to meet, walk away and don't look back. And don't ever send or offer money.
Red Flags Of Online Dating
*A person who is much younger than you can't get enough of communicating with you and loves every little think about you. Scammers look for older men and women who are more vulnerable to being scammed and who may be lonely.
*Photographs that show fancy cars, huge homes, exotic vacations, etc. This is to show you that they have money and that if you give them any money, it is just a loan. These photos are usually lifted off the Internet and social media. Most individuals with these items will not constantly be taking pictures because expensive items are just part of their everyday life and they aren't trying to impress anyone.
*If the grammar, spelling and word choices seem a little odd, it may be a tip-off that your online match is a scammer from a foreign country. If their sentence structure seems improper, ask them where they are from and where they went to college. If they say, they went to college, but can't write a simple sentence, walk away.
*When attempting to set up a face-to-face meeting, if the person you are communicating with must go out of the country suddenly or says they work overseas a lot, this could be a scammer. If they are constantly making excuses as to why they can't meet you, end your communication.
*If an unbelievable disaster strikes right about the time you were going to meet or any time before you meet face to face, this could be a scammer. If they are pleading with you for help and even send you pictures of the disaster, try searching for photos using the type of disaster as your keyword. You may be surprised to see the exact photos in your online search because that is where they got them
What To Avoid In Online Dating
*Only communicate through the app or dating site. If the person says they are leaving the site or canceling their subscription, avoid them at all costs.
*Don't send personal information in exchange for pictures or information from them. There is a good chance you will be giving them real information, and they will be feeding you lies and online search images.
*Those who want an immediate long-term relationship without getting to know you or before even meeting you, can be a scammer at work. Tell them that you want to get to know them better or you don't want to jump into a serious relationship right away, and see what their reaction is.
*If they are overly complimentary, it could be a scammer. There are nice people in the world, but if they are going overboard with the compliments, it could be too good to be true.
*If they offer a lot of personal information, thoughts, and details in their first message, you may want to avoid communicating with them. If they are sharing things that you feel uncomfortable with or wouldn't share about yourself, you could be dealing with a scammer.
Keeping Yourself Safe
*Keep your online profile as confidential as possible. Give out only broad information. If you meet a genuine match, there will be plenty of time to share more personal information.
*Don't send any photos or other information that may give them power over you to, perhaps, extort money from you in the future. Also, photos that have family members or that may give away your location aren't a good idea either. Make it a rule to avoid sending any photos except for the initial profile photo.
*Stay on the app or website for all communications. The moderators of the app or website can check conversations and will have a record of anything that is inappropriate or can be reportable if it makes you uncomfortable. You can also block the person within the app or website if you so choose.
*Do not give out your phone number. You can message someone outside of the app or website if you choose without giving away your phone number. If they refuse to message you on these other options and demand your phone number, step away from that conversation.
*Keep track of all conversations with the person. If you feel that the person is attempting to scam you, keep a copy of all communications. You can take a screenshot of any app or online conversations.
*If you feel that you are a victim of a scam, report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. You should also report the person to app or website you are using.
Books About Online Dating And Dating Scams
*Watch Out! Romance Scam!: How to Determine the Real Person Behind the Screen and to Protect Your Heart and Money, by Lindsey F. Lovelace
*Online Dating: What You Need to Know, by D.R. Anderson
*I Love You, Send Money, by W. Lawrence Lipton
*Homegrown Romance Scams: What they are, How they work, and How to Avoid Them, by C. L. Queen
*Online Dating: Rules of Communications in the Network and How to Avoid
Scam in the Relationship, by Mila Lewis
*Nightmare on EHarmony: A Memoir and Diary of a Victim of an Online Dating Scam, by Ava Baker
*Love on the Line: How to Recover from Romance Scams Gracefully and without Victimisation, by Elina Juusola
If you have questions or concerns about meeting or communicating with a potential partner, you should contact a trained professional to assist you. Going to BetterHelp (https://www.betterhelp.com/start/) can be your first step to getting the help you need. It is private, convenient and will be one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your wellness. Do the thing today that your future self will thank you for.