Online dating websites are a great platform to find and meet people around the world and finding your perfect partner. You can find such persons which you may never find around you. With our lives getting more modern, online dating is becoming more and more popular. Unfortunately, as online dating increases day by day, online dating scams also increase at a much higher rate. More and more scammers are targeting users of online dating websites to perform their scams.
Online dating scams can not only make you emotionally and mentally unstable, but they can also make you lose all of your money. In many cases, you might become a victim of identity theft due to these dating scams. Due to these scams, Americans lose millions of dollars every year.
How online dating scams work?
Online dating scams work in the same manner as other identity theft scams, the most common being the standard Nigerian 419 scam.
First of all, the scammer creates a fake online dating profile. The profile usually contains the photo of an attractive woman or man. This way, the scammer attracts more and more victims. Sometimes, the scammer may use a fictional name or use identities of real people. They even use identities of military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. This process is known as ‘catfishing’.
The scammer begins his search for a victim by sending requests to several other online dating profiles. When the scammer receives a response from any one profile, he quickly tries to establish a relationship with the person. He tries to lure the victim by sending love messages to make the victim fall in love with him. The scammer then asks the victim to use a more private channel such as phone, email or instant messaging to communicate. After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammer makes a request of money or even his banking/credit card details.
Usually, dating and romance scams take place through online dating websites, but sometimes scammers may also use social networking websites or email to find victims.
Common Tactics of Scammers
The common tactics which scammers use to attract their victims are:
- At most times, scammers profess their love in just a few days or weeks. As the scammer does not want to waste his time, so he proposes to the victim for marriage in a very short period of time. This is surely a red flag that the person is not genuine.
- Confessing love in a short period of time may not work for some people, but scammers will do anything to gain your trust. They may take several months to build the relationship and gain your full trust. They may send you gifts to attract you.
- Obviously, the scammer will not want to talk to you at all the times due to his “busy schedule”. He also needs to focus on his other targets. This is why most dating scams involve the scammers being working professionals such as soldiers deployed overseas, vehicle drivers, off-shore workers, etc. in which the scammer can’t access communication devices all the times.
Common Types of Online Dating Scams
The most common types of dating scams are:
- The scammer may ask you to send him money i.e., the real reason for the relationship. He will surely make excuses that he needs money to come visit you or for a sick member of his family, etc. He could also ask for money by blackmailing you if you have sent any compromising photos or videos of yourself.
- The person may send you valuable gadgets such as laptops, mobile phones, etc. and ask you to resend them at another place for some reason. They may even ask you to buy the gadgets yourself and then send them at some place.
- The scammer can also involve you in online bank fraud. He may ask you to set up a new bank account. He can then use this account to transfer stolen money and then ask you to transfer the money to someone which could make you a criminal.
How to protect yourself?
By taking these few protective measures, you can avoid being the victim of romance scams:
- Never share your personal information and details such as your address, bank account number, credit card number, etc. with a person whom you have never met.
- Don’t send money to a person you meet online. This will not only make you lose that much money (as demanded by the scammer) but also, the scammer will get access to your bank details leading to more loss of money.
- If you plan to meet a particular person, inform you friends and family along with the location. Do not travel outside your city to meet a stranger.
- If you agree to meet a prospective partner in person, tell your family and friends where you are going. Do not travel overseas to meet someone you have never met before. Think carefully before making any plans.
- Never send pictures or videos of yourself, (especially intimate ones).
- Ensure that you don’t share your confidential data on social networking and dating platforms. Your information can be used to make you the target of such scams or to create a fake profile of you to target other people as happened when this Facebook account was hacked.
- Never agree to transfer money for someone else. Money laundering is a criminal offense. Tell the person to transfer money himself.
- Be very careful when accessing dating websites in public places. Always remember to log out, and close browsers after that. Also, never click on automatic log on.
Be extremely cautious when using online dating websites to meet your perfect partner. Take necessary prevention and protection measures to protect yourself. Be smart about protecting yourself. If you end up falling for a romance scam, you may not only lose your money but also end up losing your emotions and trust for others. If done smartly, online dating can be great fun and helpful.