Millions of people join online dating sites or apps to meet someone – and many of them do so successfully. For others, instead of finding romance, they become a victim of online dating scams. In fact, people reported losing $201 million to online dating scammers in 2019 alone.
So, how can you avoid being swindled by these criminals? Read on for some tips.
The Lies Scammers on Dating Sites Say
Scam artists who perpetrate online dating and romance scams use emotional appeals to quickly gain their victims’ trust and then, just as quickly, exploit it. Many use bogus profiles to con the people they meet out of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Many of the common lies scammers on dating sites have been known to share involve their line of work. They’ll say they’re living or traveling outside of the United States, they’re in the military, working on an oil rig, or a doctor with an international organization. These claims make it seem like they’re wealthy, successful, or have an exciting lifestyle.
After some time working on gaining their victim’s trust, romance scammers have been known to ask their targets for money to pay for things like:
- customs fees to retrieve something
- medical expenses
- pay off gambling debts
- plane ticket or other travel expenses
- visa or other official travel documents
How to Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams
Exercise an appropriate level of caution when looking for a relationship online and to be careful about sharing personal information, photos, and money with people you’ve never met. Also, keep your communication on the dating site—scammers on dating sites will often ask their victims to use personal email or direct messaging to keep their schemes under law enforcement’s radar. If you suspect you’re facing a romance scam:
- Stop communicating with the person immediately
- Talk to someone you trust and see if they express concern about your new love interest
- Conduct a search of the person and/or the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories
- Do a reverse image search of the person’ profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up
- Don’t fall for claims of “love” if you confront them with evidence of their lies
If you need help with your research or you’ve gotten in too far, a private investigator is always a good solution to online dating scams. These experts can help you dig up information and present your findings to law enforcement. Follow your gut!