People who hear about online dating scams tend to think it will never happen to them, or that they are simply not stupid enough to fall for the same traps. Online dating scams are a very real and very present danger. Those who engage in these scams are usually aggressive, have well-rehearsed scripts and can patiently wait until they have you eating out of their hands.
So how do you avoid these online dating scams and protect yourself from the possible grief and loss of money?
Take time to read profiles
There are times when what’s written on the other person’s profile sounds remarkably different from the way he/she talks to you. Vocabulary and grammar inconsistencies can be very easy to spot when you take the time to read. If the profile looks a lot more polished and grammatically correct compared to the messages sent to you, it’s possible that the information has been copy-pasted from other member profiles.
It only takes a few seconds to copy paste a particularly amorous message onto Google. If your love interest is a scammer, there’s a possibility that the message you received has been sent to other people and that someone has already posted it online. Do the same with usernames and email addresses provided. There are websites dedicated to listing names and email addresses of scammers. The least you could do is research.
If you hear the three words too early in the game, run
People do not usually say “I love you” within 48 hours of meeting you, especially online. If the person messaging you declares love out of nowhere, be very suspicious. Chances are the person is trying to soften you up so that he/she can squeeze money from you later on.
Be on your guard
If people tell you that they are deactivating their profile because they’ve already found what they’re looking for (you!), take a step back and be ready to block those accounts. After meeting you online, someone might immediately ask you to continue messaging through IM or email. In some cases, this can be because the other members have already reported that person’s profile.
If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is
Keep a level head. If the picture looks amazingly hot, that might be because it isn’t really him/her. This doesn’t mean that there are no attractive people on online dating sites. But scammers will often use whatever means necessary to get you interested.
Don’t send money
This is very important. There are plenty of variations to the story but the goal never changes. They’re out to get your money. In one variation, a relative is dying or has fallen terribly ill. In another, he/she is supposedly stuck in another country and needs financial help to go home. In yet another, that person wants to meet you but doesn’t have enough money for airfare. You might be asked outright to send money, or if your online date is more subtle, he/she might make you feel the need solve his/her problems without being asked to. Don’t feel guilty about saying no. These people have families, friends, and colleagues. What are the chances that you, a person they have just met online, are the only person who can help them out of their problems?