Meeting online has become the most popular way U.S. couples connect nowadays. And, with millions of visitors each day, dating websites and apps are here to stay.
Sadly, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies because online dating scams have turned into a force to be reckoned with.
Will the algorithms match you with a scammer? Here’s how to tell.
Dating scams are breaking hearts and busting wallets
In these hectic times, people often turn to dating apps to try to meet that special someone. And while rejections, ghosting, and unrealistic expectations are constant threats in the dating world, scammers are also trying to squeeze themselves in.
Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, but they can sometimes contact their victims through social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. These are the con masters who take catfishing to the next level.
They seem genuine, caring, and believable, but they always end up needing something from you. More often than not, it’s money.
Television series like 90 Day Fiancé make it seems like only naïve people fall for these scams. In reality, it’s quite a lucrative business.
Source: Scamwatch, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
Worldwide, romance scams led to losses of over $200 million in 2019.
Over $38 million were lost in 2020 alone. This number is especially problematic when you consider that only 3,708 complaints were officially filed.
It’s enough to make anyone’s heart beat faster.
8 red flags to help you spot online dating scams
With so much money at stake, you can expect scammers to go out of their way to take advantage of you.
Here are some things to look out for.
1. Your match doesn’t have any other social media accounts
It’s true that some people value their privacy and keep a low profile online.
Not connecting your social media accounts to dating apps is totally fine. But not having a digital footprint at all seems suspicious. Especially with more and more privacy-friendly alternatives on the market nowadays.
2. They’re quickly infatuated with you
Dating is rarely easy. Rejection sucks, and it can definitely impact your self-esteem. This is why scammers will show immediate interest in you, even if you’re not putting in a lot of effort.
While it’s nice to feel appreciated and validated, keep in mind that it’s always challenging to create a meaningful bond with someone else.
3. They’re perfect in every way
They’re like catwalk models in their pictures; they have no vices, no problems, no regrets in life, no quirks, nothing.
If they seem like the perfect catch, dig a bit deeper.
No one is actually perfect, but it’s easy for scammers to fabricate a persona using stock photos and well-spun lies.
4. They’re always making excuses about meeting face to face
Pre-coronavirus times, traveling a lot for work was a popular lie. Other perfect cover-ups included:
- Overseas students.
- Active duty in the military.
- Doctors with international medical organizations.
Now it’s living in different time zones or having safety restrictions. And yet, they can still find time to talk to you, no matter how busy they pretend to be.
5. They’re always there to listen
OK, this one might sound weird. After all, who doesn’t want an attentive partner? But here’s how it goes.
Talking about your ex is usually a big no-no when it comes to dating. Rambling on and on can make anyone get cold feet. Yet scammers will offer you a shoulder to cry on.
That’s because listening helps better profiling you and, in some cases, even extort you.
6. They refuse to video chat
It’s easy to edit photos, but it’s harder to save face on live video. So, scammers will try everything under the sun to avoid face timing you.
They might be shy, or don’t have a good camera, or don’t want to disturb their roommates. The list of excuses is endless.
7. They like everything you like
Finding someone just right for you is hard. But finding out that that person has similar hobbies to yours is rare.
And yet scammers seem to be interested in every single thing you’re into. It’s all very easy because they search your social media profiles to mimic your likes and dislikes.
8. They ask you for money
Obviously, this is the biggest red flag of them all.
But it’s rarely the in-your-face type of request media makes it seem. Scammers will sometimes spend months bonding with you before they’ll throw a sob story your way. And it’s almost always an emergency that requires a large sum of money.
By this point, most people cave in and send the money to that someone they consider to be really special, but it’s just a scammer.
Dating is hard enough without someone trying to extort money out of you and manipulate you, so pay close attention and make sure you don’t get catfished.
How do you make sure you’re looking for love safely online? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, stay safe and secure!