You must use a bit of common sense before you can completely trust a person. More so if you are a user of online dating services; you can’t interact with the people you send your emails personally and so trusting them is more difficult.
Scammers abound in the online sphere and they will take advantage of anyone who they find are gullible enough for them to extort money from. In case you have been a victim of dating service scams, you only have your correspondence with him or her as your evidence. Tracking the culprit down and have him/ her pay for her crimes may even be impossible especially if he/she deletes his/her account as soon as he/she gets the money. Distance is also another thing: if he/she lives thousands of miles from you, expect that your money is good as gone. Dating service scams not only leave you heartbroken, but also down a few thousands from your bank account.
Most scammers target online dating service websites because they know the targets are people who already earn an income or have a lot of money. Some online dating service users even pay for the monthly fee that the website demands in the hopes of finding their potential partner. Scammers will use as many accounts as possible and entice hapless love- seekers to start sending emails to them, which may go on for months, establish a connection and trust, and then start asking money.
In 2011 alone, there were 5,600 complaints from online dating service users who were victims of online dating service scams. The amount of money that was gone in that year because of dating service scams was estimated at $50.4 million.
According to trave.state.gov., widows and widowers and those with disabilities are the vulnerable dating service users that scammers target. Scammers know that widows/ widowers have inherited money upon the death of their spouse. Likewise, they will also pose as widows/ widowers themselves. In the US., scammers know that people with disabilities receive disability checks, making them an easier target.
Don’t be a victim of dating service scams. What are the red flags and tell- tale signs that you should observe so you’ll know you’re dealing with a scammer? The following 5 pointers will help you heighten your awareness on the most common ploys scammers do.
Watch out for anything Too Good to be True
Most online scammers will scour different websites and get pictures from other people without their permission. Most often, they will use pictures of people which look like it were just taken out of a magazine or photo shoot. They know that pictures are the first thing that will attract online dating service users, and they know they will have to pick the best and the most good- looking photos to do this. You will notice that in the person’s profile he or she will only post a limited number of pictures. The best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to ask for more pictures, make sure that you’ll ask him or her a specific picture (you may ask him or her to post a new picture of him/ her doing his/her hobby). You can firmly ask him/ her to video chat. If he or she declines this demand, then you will be sure that this particular person is a scammer and the next thing to do is delete him/ her from your list.
These scammers can have multiple accounts in other websites as well. So, be aware of that. There are sites like chemistry.com which had its share of controversies in the past (as per some people). You can read the chemistry review here and decide whether chemistry.com is a scam or not.
He/ She Tells a Sob Story
If he/ she is sure that you have trusted him/her, he/ she will pull the sob story trick on you. Usually he/ she will tell you that some immediate family member is sick or grievously ill from a disease and he or she will need all the money to help his/ her ailing family member and you’re the only one who can help. Or another plot that could be used is meeting an accident. These stories are usually prompted after a few months of constant communication. If you don’t send the money immediately, he/ she will become more desperate and incessant until you give in.
The stories may have a lot of variations, but the one thing you should watch out for is if your current date will start to ask for money. You may be moved by pity because somehow you may have felt a connection with this person, but you can be sure that behind it is a scammer who is just waiting for you to bite the bait. You can also be sure that if you so send some money, you will never hear from him/ her again or he/she will continue to ask for more money.
You Pay so S/He Flies In
Usually, they tell you that they are eager to meet you, it’s just that they don’t have the money to immediately go back home. When you do send the money, again, there are two possible outcomes: you may never hear from him/ her ever again or he/ she will tell you that an accident came up and he/ she used the money you sent and then begins to ask for more.
This may go on for months until you find yourself already spending thousands from your bank account. Scammers usually exploit the anticipation that their victims are feeling. Early on the time that you have started communicating with each other, you must ask for proof of his/ her work. Or, simply close your wallet.
They Take You Somewhere
Usually the new website will be more personal than the dating service website where the two of you met. Or he/ she will ask you that your messages will continue in personal email, instant messaging or phone calls. The messages will get more intimate and he/ she will start telling you more private details about his/ her life. They may also send you revealing photos of themselves. This is the scammer’s way of gaining your trust. What happens next is he/ she will also ask you to reveal more information about yourself and you send pictures too. The one thing you should never do is to reveal too much information and to also send your share of revealing photos. If you do comply with their request, what scammers do is they are already feeding your information and photos on another website without your knowledge and permission. He/ she will tell you that you will have to send money before he/ she will take your photo down. But the bitter thing is if he/ she will tell you that the money is not enough and you’re not sure when he/ she will do his/ her part of the deal – Classic blackmails.
Vague Messages are Always Dubious
Sometimes you may notice that you have started a conversation with someone whose messages are vague and the most of the words are incorrectly spelled. Although there are people who struggle with English and live in another part of the world (because it’s not their second language), you must remain vigilant. The person may come from a country where online scams are rampant. Or their messages are consistent and wrongly addressed to you. Scammers usually just copy and paste the contents of their messages, send them to unsuspecting victims and it’s better to just stop the correspondence right then and there.
If you find yourself that you have been a victim of online dating service scams, report it immediately. Authorities may still be able to help you and put the scammer behind bars, and lessen such type of people and lessen the victims in the online world.