Exercising caution in the world of online dating is necessary, as not every online love story is true. Many people in search of love, friendship and companionship have been victims of online dating scams.
For this reason, it is essential to be aware of red flags and trust your instincts, especially when someone you’ve met online starts making unusual requests, such as asking for money or sharing personal information too quickly.
Online dating scams start with meeting someone who seems great and soon asks to communicate off the app. They often claim they can’t meet in person. Eventually, they request money for emergencies like plane tickets or surgery. After receiving the money, they block you or deactivate their profile.
1) Military Romance Scams
Ever received a message from a person who claims to be a brave soldier serving in the military? They tell you stories about their heroic missions and show pictures of themselves in uniform. It all seems exciting and romantic, right?
No! Military romance scammers use these stories and pictures to create a fake identity. They might start by building a strong connection with you, saying all the right things to make you feel special.
Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll come up with a sob story, like needing money for an emergency or to plan a visit.
The scammer might claim they can’t access their own funds because they’re on a top-secret mission or stationed in a remote location.
They play on your emotions, making you feel like a hero by helping them out and before you know it, you’re sending money to someone who isn’t the soldier they claimed to be.
Real soldiers won’t ask you for money or personal information. If you suspect something fishy, trust your instincts and double-check their story.
Top tip: you can do a reverse image search on their pictures to see if they’re pulling them from the internet.
2) Fake Dating Sites
Fake dating sites are set up by scammers to look like the real deal. They use attractive profiles and tempting promises to lure you in.
Everything seems legit at first glance, with polished layouts and seemingly genuine profiles that make you think you’ve hit the jackpot. These sites use automated messages or fake profiles to keep you engaged.
The sites might trick you into paying for a premium membership with promises of exclusive features or access to a pool of high-quality matches. The reality is that these features often don’t exist, and the promised matches are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
Exercise caution with sites that seem too good to be true. Watch out for overly polished profiles and excessively eager messages. Avoid sites that push you to upgrade to a premium membership right away.
Legitimate dating platforms allow you to explore their basic features before asking for your hard-earned cash.
3) Intimate Photo Scams
You know how sometimes people chat online, maybe on dating apps, and things start getting a bit, you know, personal? Initially, everything seems cool, and you’re sharing pics.
After several exchanges, the other person might ask for more private pictures – maybe something you wouldn’t show to your grandma. And bam! Once they get those pics, things take a turn for the worse.
The scammers aren’t looking for a love connection but to use those personal pics against you. They might threaten to share those pictures with your friends, family, or maybe even post them online for everyone to see.
They’ll say something like, “Hey, if you don’t want these pictures all over the internet, you better send us some money – pronto!” They’re holding your privacy hostage.
And here’s the kicker – even if you pay up, there’s no guarantee they won’t come back for more. Be super careful about sharing personal pics with someone you just met online.
4) Code Verification Scams
Code verification scams happen on dating apps such as Tinder. You get an email or text claiming to be from Tinder, saying that they need you to verify your account.
The message might say it’s because Tinder is updating its records and needs your confirmation. Sometimes, a person you matched with on Tinder might also ask you to verify your account before they’ll keep talking to you.
Now, the tricky part is that the scammer wants you to click on a link they provide to verify your account.
Once you click on it, they’ll start asking for a bunch of personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email, Social Security number, birth date, and even details about your bank account or credit card.
Tinder has a way to verify accounts, but they do it themselves through the app. If someone has a verified account on Tinder, it means they’ve gone through a process where they take selfies that are then compared to the photos on their profile to make sure they match.
Therefore, if someone is asking you to verify your account through any other way, especially by clicking on a link and giving out personal info, it’s likely a scam.
5) Inheritance Scams
Inheritance scams happen when someone tricks you by pretending they have a lot of money waiting for them, like gold, from a family member who passed away.
The scammer says they can only get the inheritance if they marry someone, and that person is usually you. They claim it’s a rule in their family member’s will.
Then, a young woman contacts you, saying she can’t get the gold into your country because she can’t pay certain taxes.
As the scammer talks to you more and more, they ask for money to bring the gold to your country. They might even promise to come and meet you in person, but that’s just to make you trust them.
So, you send them money for their trip, but they never show up. It turns out, they were just trying to take your money by pretending to have a big inheritance.
6) Malware Scams
Malware scams are a real concern when you’re online, and they can even happen on dating platforms.
After matching and having a few conversations with someone, they might suggest checking out more about them on their personal web page or through what seems like their Facebook or Instagram profiles only that these pages aren’t real.
Once you click on the links they provide, you’ll be directed to a web page that’s loaded with malware and spam tailored to steal your personal information. If they get their hands on your details, it can lead to identity theft and financial fraud.
As a general rule of thumb, if someone you’ve met on an online dating site is really eager to get you to visit another website, it’s a potential red flag.
Avoid clicking on any links unless you’re absolutely sure the person is genuine. Taking steps to protect your personal information online is crucial to avoid falling victim to these types of scams.
7) Online Dating Investment Scams
Online dating cryptocurrency investment scams are a newer and riskier form of trickery that many people have fallen victim to.
Scammers invest time in building a seemingly genuine and long-term relationship with you – their target. As the connection deepens, they introduce the topic of cryptocurrencies, expressing keen interest.
Gradually, they propose to play the role of a guide, offering to help the victim with their own cryptocurrency investments.
To make the scam more believable, they encourage you to open a legitimate cryptocurrency account and deposit money into it. Then, they provide a link to a supposed “special” cryptocurrency exchange, claiming it will yield high returns on the victim’s investment.
The scammer’s goal is to lure you into investing more money as they see promising returns on the fake exchange. When you try to withdraw your supposed earnings, you hit a roadblock.
The scammer insists on a hefty tax payment or threatens that the site will shut down, resulting in the loss of all invested funds.
Here are some warning signs to watch out for in cryptocurrency romance scams:
- Frequent cryptocurrency mentions – Scammers consistently talk about cryptocurrency and promise extraordinary returns on investments.
- Claim of special knowledge – They boast about having unique insights that can guarantee substantial returns with minimal risk.
- Links to cryptocurrency exchanges – They send links to cryptocurrency exchanges, purportedly displaying your investment. In reality, these links lead to the scammer’s “crypto wallet,” equivalent to handing over cash directly to them.
Signs of an Online Dating Scam
According to the Federal Trade Commission, victims of online dating scams reported a staggering $547 million in losses in 2021. Victims reported sending money to scammers more with gift cards compared to any other payment method.
It’s paramount to be aware of the signs that something may not be quite right in your online connection. Here are seven tell-tale signs that you might be falling for an online dating scam.
Too good to be true – Does the person you’re talking to online seems like a dream come true, with an idealized life, career, and personality?
If yes, then you need to be cautious. Scammers often create a picture-perfect image to lure unsuspecting individuals. Watch out for overly flattering language and a life story that seems too perfect to be real.
Fast and intense romance – Genuine relationships take time to develop. A common red flag is the person on the other end of your messages declaring profound feelings of love or commitment in an unusually short period.
Fraudsters are quick to establish a strong emotional connection quickly, making it easier to manipulate their victims.
Avoids face-to-face interaction – One of the hallmarks of a potential scam is the reluctance to meet in person or engage in a video call. Does your online crush always have an excuse for why they can’t meet face-to-face? Keep off such characters.
Requests for money – Perhaps the most significant warning sign is when your online connection starts asking for money. This can be in the form of an emergency, a sudden financial crisis, or the need for travel funds to finally meet.
Avoid sending money to someone you’ve never met, as this is a common tactic used by scammers to exploit emotions and trust.
Inconsistent stories – Pay attention to the details in the stories your online companion shares. If their narrative seems to change frequently, or if there are inconsistencies and contradictions in their accounts of events or personal history, it’s a cause for concern.
Unusual or poorly written language – Many online scams originate from countries where English is not the first language. As a result, scammers may use unusual language or exhibit poor writing skills.
Keep an eye out for odd sentence structures, grammar mistakes, or an overall lack of fluency, as these can be indicators that something is amiss.
Reluctance to share information – A legitimate person looking for a relationship is usually open about their life, interests, and background. If your online partner is evasive or avoids answering personal questions, it’s a red flag.
They often steer clear of revealing too much about themselves to prevent their victims from discovering the truth.
As we seek online connections, it’s crucial to be careful because not every love story we find on the internet is the real deal. Online dating scams serve as a warning sign, requiring us to be on the lookout for tricky situations.
As we use technology to meet new people, we must be smart and avoid rushing into things. If someone we met online starts asking for money or personal info too quickly, that’s a sign to take a step back.
Genuine connections take time to grow, and being patient helps us avoid disappointment or even trouble. Always keep your eyes open, trust your gut feelings, and enjoy the journey with caution.