How To Spot An Online Dating Scam
1. You meet someone online who seems really interested in getting to know you.
2. They say all of the right things to build a believable story and gain your trust.
3. Eventually their story will lead to them having a financial problem and you will feel compelled to help them.
4. You are then left broken hearted when your new love disappears along with your money.
So how do you spot this before you get scammed?
How online dating scams work
You are looking for love or friendship. Aren’t we all? Someone starts chatting with you through an online dating service and you enjoy the long chats with them and eventually become interested. Over time you chat regularly and start to feel a really strong bond. You may even start to fall head over heels for this person. But then right out of the blue they need some money – a looming personal crisis or a short term lack of funds. Maybe it’s the reason why he or she cannot meet you!
You trust them obviously, so you want to help. They’ll probably have a very convincing story. So you send them the money. Before long they ask for more – then more, and more, and more. Soon you’ve handed over all of your savings. Or worse yet, you borrow money to bail them out. Once they’ve taken all they can, your new love will disappear and your money will be gone. No one wants to think that they could fall for an internet dating scam, and yet hundreds of people fall victim to such scams every single year.
Online Dating Fraud UK Facts:
Online dating fraud rose by 33% last year
88% of dating fraud is online – the rest is by post, through newspapers and in person
The UK public lost £34 million to “romance” fraudsters in 2014
The average reported loss is between £2000 and £3000
The average time between initial contact and the realisation that you have been conned is 6 weeks
Average victim age is between 45 and 60 years old
57% of victims are female
In the UK 89% of reported scams occur in Birmingham and London
Online dating scams
Here are a few of the more obvious scams that are around and some tell-tale things to look out for. But be aware that this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Age – Age for female scammers is typically between 25 and 30 and they usually target male dating members who are between 40 and 60 years of age because this age group is normally financially secure. Male scammers are normally between 40 and 50 and they always try to target female dating members who are between 40 and 60 years of age.
Details that don’t add up – Online-dating scammers often have very detailed and convincing background stories. But somewhere down the track you may start to feel that things don’t quite add up. Times and places may not tally, or they may retell a story in a slightly different way.
Fake Investigators – Be aware of “detectives” or “private investigators” who are offering their services for a fee to track down a scammer. They promise to identify who the scammer is and for an additional fee have them arrested and bring them to justice. Many people have been contacted by these fakes asking for money to assist. We know this is a continuation of the original scam. There are some fake detectives/investigators that have set up web sites stating they are NET Detectives. There are some that display membership to different investigative organizations. These are mostly PAID associations and anyone can be a member if they pay the fee. It in no way makes them legitimate.
Grammar – Poor grammar and spelling errors are normally everywhere in a scammer’s profile and messages. You can easily spot it, especially when the scammer shows you he/she has an advanced educational background such as a Masters degree.
Leaving Already? – Watch out if the scammer wants to leave the dating site too soon. Most dating sites use technology to monitor suspect messages and this is there to protect you.
Location – Copy the suspect profile into Google – if it is on other dating sites you will find it replicated. Ask them where they are located. Ask them to use http://www.whatismyipaddress.com and send you the IP address. Using http://www.iplocation.net you can then confirm their actual location.
Photos – Most of the female scammer profiles use photos stolen from modelling websites, so the photos look neat and are very professionally taken. Many male scammers use photos that appear to be everyday snaps. Scammers from African countries will send a passport-like photo of themselves. It will be very grainy and somewhat aged.
Poor or Vague Communication – Have you ever swapped emails with someone on an internet dating site and wondered if it’s the same person who is replying to your messages each time? Or perhaps you’ve thought that the person on the other end really needs to use spell check. This can often be a sign of a scammer.
Russian and Filipino Ticket and Visa Scam – He or she builds a bond with you, then arranges to visit, and may even show you a false ticket to alleviate your fears. Then at the last minute some glitch will transpire and they will need some money.
Sob Stories – Don’t get dragged into emotional blackmail – Stories of missionary work and orphanages needing money generally are dating scams.
The Nigerian/Ghana Emergency Scam – Watch out for a businessman having an accident, a helpless woman stranded or a very ill relative unable to leave the country.
Trending online scam phrases to look out for:
A man who knows how to treat a woman and who understands her deep inside.
My dream is to be in arms of right and wise man.
Trust me I am romantic tender honest intelligent and active lady.
Forthright and honest I value integrity a sense of fairness.
I like to laugh and have been described as having a good sense of humour.
Warning signs and things they may say – They quickly declare that they have fallen in love or maybe they normally live in the UK or USA but have to work overseas in Ghana, Nigeria or somewhere in Africa.
How to report a dating scam
Finally, if you have been a victim or think you are going to be scammed – contact http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud – Or call 0300 1232040 (UK) or contact your online dating site and report the profile as soon as you can.