if you’re looking for your perfect match, the last thing you want is to be victimized by Internet dating scams. There are lots of legitimate dating sites and genuine users on those sites, but not everyone is really looking for their special someone.
Some of the messages you receive might not be from people who are actually interested in you. Instead, they could be scammers hoping to get money or other benefits before disappearing suddenly.
How Online Dating Scams Work
The average dating scam starts with an appealing profile (and perhaps an attractive photo) that has relatively little to do with the person who made it. Under this profile, the scammer contacts you, acting as though they’re interested in a potential romantic relationship.
Scammers may seem extremely interesting at first. After all, they’re willing to lie and pretend to be what you want in order to take advantage of you. It’s very easy to end up engaging in regular correspondence with someone who isn’t really what they seem.
As soon as possible, the scammer takes the conversation off of the dating service and onto a social network, email or other outside service. This makes it easier to find out your personal details and gives the whole conversation a greater feeling of intimacy.
The scammer wants to earn your trust and is usually eager to talk about jobs, daily life, family members and much more. The trouble is that while your end of the conversation is real, the scammer’s end is usually made up and tailored to your interests.
Even if you exchange photos, you can’t be sure that the person you’re talking to actually matches the image you receive – they may even be a different gender!
Once a scam artist has established the illusion of a meaningful relationship, he or she can begin siphoning off money and other valuables. One common scam involves the scammer pretending that he or she wants to meet you in person, but can’t afford the cost of a plane ticket.
You may be asked to send money to cover part or all of the travel costs, but the actual travel never occurs. Other common scams include the pretense of a family emergency or a personal illness.
If you do send a scam artist money, he or she usually won’t disappear right away. Instead, the requests for money often increase. You may be told that medical problems have gotten worse without warning, that numerous problems have occurred with the scammer’s travel plans, or that the other person’s life is simply turning upside-down.
Though you will be unaware, you may even be asked to participate in criminal activities, such as cashing stolen checks or money orders, though it may look like nothing is wrong at the time.
It’s easy to be blinded by emotion and find yourself sending payment after payment. It can take some people years to realize that there’s a problem. Some people don’t discover that they’ve been scammed until they find themselves waiting at the airport for someone who never arrives.
Most scammers eventually stop communicating and disappear entirely. Their manufactured identities make them hard to track once they decide to cut ties. Some even maintain multiple identities and use them to scam several people at once.
Online dating scams are more common than you may think, and they can have a detrimental effect on your life. In addition to money, jewelry and other financial losses, there’s a good chance you’ll also feel betrayed and emotionally damaged.
This is why it’s so important to exercise caution whenever you meet someone online. If it seems like the person you’re talking to is too good to be true, or if you communicate with someone who seems to behave inconsistently, you may have a problem.
Don’t let a dating scammer take advantage of your feelings. Stay alert for inconsistencies or details that feel false, even if the relationship seems to be going well.
Most scammers have a lot of practice at taking advantage of vulnerable people who trust them. Treat any request for money as extremely suspicious and be careful if someone you care about but don’t know in person asks you to do them a favor.
You can often uncover an online scammer by looking up his or her personal information. Since many scammers use similar personal details and cover stories over and over again, a little bit of online detective work could help you uncover the truth.
Include names and key phrases from email communication to find out if the person you’re talking to has ever used these stories somewhere else. Most important of all, stay alert and don’t let your feelings blind you to the truth. It could be an important key to avoiding Internet dating scams.