These days, more and more people are using online dating sites to look for romance. It is a billion-dollar industry, and scammers are also using it to their advantage. Scammers target online daters and bilk them out of thousands of dollars. They pose as foreigners who are also looking for love. Usually they send notes via email to unsuspecting men and women and get them hooked. Then they provide email addresses so that they can communicate with the unsuspecting victims offline.
Scammers like to use email to build offline relationships. They’ll tell you that they love you, and this is when the drama begins. Generally, the scam starts with some type of emergency where they need your financial assistance. Other scams involve them needing money to apply for things such as a VISA to visit you.
Unfortunately, these are all ways for con artists to scam you. Surprisingly, many times you aren’t even talking to the person that you think you’re talking to. It may be a woman when you think you’re talking to a man. Sometimes, scammers hire other people to get in on the scam and pose as your love interest.
However, you don’t have to become a victim of online relationship scams. Watch out for the following warning signs:
A Love Interest Asks You for Money
This is a major red flag. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance may be, a total stranger should never ask you for money. Con artists know how to be creative. They may ask for airfare so that they can visit you and cash a check in the process. Some scammers ask for money in the very beginning of the relationship, but others will wait to build up a bogus relationship to get you hooked.
Being the First to Initiate Contact
Scammers are known for initiating first contact. If someone from another country emails and wants to start a relationship, delete the email.
Communication via Email
Scammers want to communicate via email because they know that online websites will delete their profiles once they are pegged as scammers. They send emails very quickly and request that you email them back.
Some scammers like to take a lot of fake photos. Use your common sense. If you think that a photo is fake, then you are probably right. In addition, a lot of scammers like to post photos of other people. If the people in the photos look too beautiful to be true, then be wary. Many times, these photos are cut from magazines. Follow your intuition.
Refusal to Share Information
Be cautious if this person wants to know everything about you, but refuses to share his personal information. Keep in mind that scammers are very creative and attentive. They know how to play the game very well. If you meet someone who wants to play 20 questions in one session, move on to the next profile.
If you are chatting with a foreigner via an online dating site, be wary of inconsistencies. For instance, watch out for language patterns, email styles and repetitive statements. If the scammer is working in a network, different people may be posing as the same person. This means you could be talking to a new person every time you email this person. If the emails seem strange, move on to the next profile.
Look for red flags such as the aforementioned, but also do the following things for protection:
Be the first one to initiate online communication.
Protect your privacy.
Chat with domestic online daters. Avoid foreigners.
Listen to your intuition.
Don’t build a relationship with someone who only wants to communicate via email. Only communicate via the website service.
Unfortunately, plenty of online daters have been victims of scams. There was a reported incident where a foreign woman asked two different men for her airfare. They both showed up at the airport to pick her up. She got free airfare, but she left both men at the airport.
This doesn’t mean that online dating is a bad thing, it just means that you must know the difference between a true relationship and a scam. All in all, don’t allow yourself to be scammed.