How To Avoid Online Dating Scams
Finding love online and pursuing a relationship requires opening yourself up and being vulnerable. Unfortunately, scammers have fine-tuned the process of taking advantage of people who are looking for love, and they often use dating sites as a way to target their victims.
Fortunately, they have also become so cocky and sure of themselves that they follow the same strategy again and again on every dating site. Once you know what patterns to look for, and are able to spot their tells, you can easily avoid most of the fakes and have a real chance at finding someone as authentic as you are.
How Online Dating Scams Work
Online dating scams usually follow a similar pattern: the scammer will create a fake profile on a dating website, often using stolen pictures and information. They will then reach out to potential victims, build up trust over time, and eventually ask for money. The requests are usually for things like travel expenses or medical bills, but can also include asking the victim to send gifts or buy something on their behalf.
The scammers are very good at what they do and can be very convincing. They often create sob stories about being in difficult financial situations or needing help with an emergency. Because they have been building up trust over time, their victims are more likely to believe them and send them money.
Some online dating scammers prefer the "short con" and will be more likely to directly ask for small gifts from the start. But the most dangerous type of scam is the "long con", where trust is built up over a considerable amount of time to make sure you are emotionally invested.
A classic example of a long con is known as the Spanish Prisoner and, in online dating, it usually involves waiting until there is talk about meeting in person and then something happens with horrible timing that would prevent them from coming to see you. Of course, if it just wasn't for that then you could be together and they dearly love you so you would gladly send money to buy the plane tickets, or cover their rent that month, or whatever the case may be.
Most often, the scam starts slowly. It's rare that a scammer will try to clean out your bank account on the first attempt. Just as with catching a fish, they want to make sure the hook is set deep so they will start off by going for small amounts of money and keep it going or raise the amounts slowly over time.
What To Look For
There are a few key things to watch out for that will help you spot a scammer using an online dating site. First, they will often have very generic dating profiles with little information about themselves. They also may have only one or two photos and those look professionally taken. Or the photos may look like they are from a modeling portfolio. This is because they are using pictures that they found online and that are not of themselves.
Another tell-tale sign is if they start asking for money early on in the relationship. They may say they need help with travel expenses or medical bills or ask you to buy something for them. If you haven't even met in person yet, this is a huge red flag that you are dealing with a scammer.
Scammers will also avoid talking on the phone, doing a video call, or meeting in person. They may give excuses like they are working overseas, have poor webcam quality, or broke their phone. This is because they don't want to be seen or heard and risk being caught.
Finally, trust your gut. If something feels off about the person you are talking to, it probably is. Don't ignore your instincts just because you are excited about the possibility of finding love with someone beautiful.
How To Tell If Someone Is Scamming You With Online Dating
Most people don't start looking for information about online dating scams until they suspect they are already involved in one. Most of the time, things seemed to start out believable enough but then less things about the person's story seem to make sense over time. So how do you tell if you should keep talking or report them to the dating site?
Scammers tend to follow the same routine and will scam dozens of people at a time. For this reason, a lot of them have patterns that are pretty easy to spot.
For example, they strongly prefer using Google Chat for communications. So much so that sometimes they will be absolutely pushy when you suggest a more widely-used chat application (like Skype, Whatsapp, or Telegram) and insist that you get Google Chat. If that's the case, just forget it. The person you have been talking to is a guaranteed scammer. Any legitimate person that meets someone interesting on a dating site will have one of the mainstream social media apps or be willing to download one to talk with you.
Another thing you should consider is if all of the pictures they have sent you are of the same person. Many times scammers will not have been able to steal enough casual looking pictures to use, so they will either send pictures of someone that looks believably similar or all of the pictures they send will look a little "too good" and with lighting that is too perfect.
Even if someone is very shy and has a cheap phone, there is no realistic reason these days to not be able to do a video chat with someone you meet on a dating site by the second week you are talking with them.
If they don't want to video chat even once, they are either a scammer or are hiding something serious.
How To Avoid Getting Scammed
The best way to avoid getting scammed on an online dating service is to be aware of the signs and to trust your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. Someone real will be just as open about things, and excited to talk by phone or video call, as you are.
Another good rule of thumb is to never send money to someone you haven't met in person. And if you do meet in person, remember that the precedent you set in the beginning is likely to stick. Be wary of anyone that seems to think you should give them money and don't be fast to offer it unless you are sure the need is authentic and justified. If you set yourself up to be where they turn for money, even someone with good intentions may get the wrong idea.
Finally, be sure to report any suspicious behavior to the dating site immediately so they can take appropriate action. By being vigilant, we can all help make online dating a safe and fun experience for everyone involved.
Keeping Faith In Finding Love
With so many scams out there, it's easy to lose faith in the possibility of finding love online. This is especially true if you have ever fallen victim to an online dating scam.
The reality is that the world is full of millions of people just like you, who are authentically looking for love online. They too have to avoid just as many traps to find you, and they're looking.
Knowing how to spot a scammer before you get your emotions involved, and how to feel more confident that the person you are talking to is real, will help you know the difference between an online illusion and a real developing relationship.
Whether you are polygamous, polyamorous, or monogamous, online dating holds the promise of the life and love you want. Just go slow and be aware of warning signs before you get too involved.