One of the unfortunate realities of life is that anywhere you find large groups of people, you will almost certainly find people whose intentions are to take advantage of them. This is certainly the case with online dating where scammers often try to prey on people wanting to form a romantic connection. Fortunately, education is the key to avoiding online dating scams. Those who have experienced them firsthand, such as the company ScamSurvivors, help you know what to look for to stay safe.
Know How to Identify Financial Scammers
Of course, the major type of scammers that you’ll encounter on online dating apps and websites deal with financial scams. These have been around since the earliest days of the public internet and still persevere. For example, the Nigerian prince scam still finds its way into inboxes even though people are largely aware of it. However, many more elaborate scams exist, particularly on dating apps.
Avoiding financial scams largely has to do with spotting fake profiles. There are many key indicators of these on dating apps. A common place to look is the photos. If an account is clearly using stock photos or photos of different (often similar looking) people, that is a sign of a scammer. You can often also find inconsistencies between the photos and the description such as describing oneself as a “brunette” when the hair in the photo is blonde. Another key thing to look for is lots of unusual grammar errors as many scammers are from areas where English is not the primary language.
Other things to look for in terms of financial romance scams include the behavior of people. If they attempt to quickly get you off of the dating app and to another platform to communicate, this is a red flag. This is a way they try to avoid being detected and removed by the app. Additionally, quickly love bombing you by expressing strong feelings is concerning behavior. Finally, making excuses to avoid video or voice chatting is another sign they are not who they claim to be.
Sextortion is a Rising Ploy for Scammers
While many scammers aim for traditional financial scams, others have pivoted to a newer type of scam known as sextortion. This is a type of scam that primarily attempts to target younger victims. The scam begins like many others with the scammer attempting to build a strong, trusting connection with the victim. Once this is established, the scam is launched.
In sextortion scams, the scammer will convince their victim to take nude photos of themselves. Next, the scammer will obtain them either by getting the victim to send them directly or via hacking. Once the photos are obtained, the scam involves blackmailing the victim. Scammers will demand a large amount of money. If it is not paid, they will spread the photos on the internet, specifically targeting family members, friends, and employers.
Sextortion scams are becoming more prominent among cybercriminals. This type of virtual scam also tends to have greater consequences than others. Sextortion tends to result in victims experiencing mental health issues, with some of them self-harming. Scammers will target victims as young as 12 for this type of scam. It can also be a means of bringing people into human trafficking.
ScamSurvivors Note Healthy Skepticism is Key
When it comes to protecting yourself against scams originating from dating platforms, ScamSurvivors note that healthy skepticism is perhaps the best weapon at your disposal. You should always analyze profiles for potential red flags that could indicate the presence of a scammer.
Additionally, it is important to pay attention to a person’s behavior while you are interacting with them. If they quickly begin expressing their love and admiration for you after a few messages, it is likely that you have met an online scammer. Of course, even if you seem to avoid red flags, when someone asks for money, this is a good indicator of a scam. This is particularly true in situations that have extreme stories that seem barely plausible such as needing money quickly for plane tickets or medical procedures.
Ultimately, while there are many great people on online dating sites, there are certainly scammers around as well. Being able to distinguish one from the other in your communications is something that takes knowledge and practice but is key for keeping you safe online. I highly encourage people to become better educated about the telltale signs of scammers in order to stay safe while on dating platforms.