How often do you see stories in the media about people being conned out of their life savings after trying online dating? I don’t know about you but I see it pretty regularly. Online dating scams are getting more and more prevalent.
To me, scamming people via online dating is one of the lowest of lows with regards to online scams. With the majority of scams, the scammer and the person they scam never know each other, never have any dealings with each other, and their falling prey is unfortunately a case of bad luck. In online dating, whether pretending to be yourself, or catfishing and pretending to be someone else, these people are building relationships with people they meet online, and can still go ahead and leave them penniless or broken hearted.
What about the woman who moved to Sri Lanka to be with her local husband? She gave him over £100,000 and then was unfortunately murdered. She is now stuck out there with no money to get back to the UK and now admits he probably just wanted to be with her for the money! This is an unusual case, as she actually went to live with the person, but a lot of the stories I see are where the person never meets the scammer and yet still hands over the money.
This story of “Dave” who was scammed by someone claiming to want to spend the rest of her life with him is a stark reminder that these scammers will stop at nothing to get money. The scammers declared their love for him, sent him pictures and offered the details of the local police office. This story is also proof that this doesn’t just happen to older or less technologically savvy people – “Dave” was 32 and using a dating app.
A story about a lady called “Amy” I found hard to read. She was swept off her feet by a faux Prince Charming. Although her scammer was never caught, she lost over $300,000! This amount of money is not small – and it was someone she had never met! Yes I admit it, I think she was foolish and gullible, but these scammers are getting cleverer and cleverer. They know that no-one dislikes being told that you are wonderful, gorgeous, perfect, amazing…. They play on human emotions with a good dose of guilt thrown in (I need money for this or I can’t live without that).
Putting all of this aside, I know a lot of people in wonderful relationships and even marriages with people they have met online. I certainly am not writing this to discourage people from doing it, but I just ask you to have common sense and discernment. Here are some of the key points I picked up from the articles and from other stories that I’ve read online that you should look out for. All of these should be giant red flags to you!
- A request for money before you’ve even met someone is a BIG NO NO! This is whether they claim it is they need money to survive, a major family emergency or they need the money to release funds for that “massive business deal” that is going to make you both a fortune!
- The person having a lack of social media presence, or a small number of friends/followers on the channels they are on.
- Changing their phone number, or telling you that their phone cannot taking incoming or international calls. Some scammers refuse to even speak on the phone but will always have an excuse.
- Inconsistencies in what they tell you – from their story to the spelling of their name. On that note – poor spelling, punctuation and grammar can also often indicate a scammer.
- Repetition can also be an indicator – they might have forgotten what they’ve told you because they are talking to so many people at the same time.
- Quickly changing the tone of messages.
- Messages that start “Dear….” are usually worth avoiding.
- They claim to live near you but are always away on business
- Asking you for a lot of personal information.
- Big age difference – is it likely that a 26 year old will fall madly in love with a 59 year old?
In the world today, if something or someone seems too good to be true unfortunately it probably is! If you have any doubts – do a reverse image search. You can do this by saving a picture on your device and dragging and dropping it into Google – it’s awesome! Also, don’t invest too much in an online relationship before meeting someone. An online relationship can very intense and scammers play on this to get money from you. Just remember to enjoy internet dating but trust your instincts. If you do agree to meet someone in person make sure someone knows where you are going and who you are meeting.