Though the majority of popular online dating sites now come equipped with a fair bit of fraud protection and security, it is never a bad idea to know what can happen if you let your guard down. The fact is that fraudsters exist and scams do happen (despite the best efforts of the industry), so it pays to be aware of the way scammers work. Being prepared and knowledgeable is a great way to protect yourself in the event you encounter such a person.
Here then are some common online dating scams.
Not enough money to travel
One of the oldest online dating scams has its origins in Russia. Fraudulent members will use the photographs of a model or someone similarly attractive, and claim to be in love with you. Once they’ve managed to gain your trust (and your ahem, enthusiasm) they’ll then proceed to detail how much they would love to meet you in person. The problem however, is that they can’t afford to pay for travel costs. Do not, under any circumstances, send money to someone for an airline ticket.
In desperate need of a visa
Another common scam works in the same manner as the above example, except that this time the scammer will try to make you believe they need a VISA to enter the country. With this scam the fraudster will try to emphasize how perfect the two of you are together. They will try to make you believe (often within minutes) how you two are a match made in heaven. As stated above, do not send money to help someone travel.
A variation on the above scams sees the fraudster claim to be an American stranded in a foreign country, and in desperate need of money to get home. Usually these involve countries in Africa, though they are not exclusive to this region. An easy give-away to this type of scheme is the supposed single’s level of English. If they are having trouble chatting with you, odds are good they are not the Americans they claim to be.
If you spend enough time on an online dating site, eventually you might run into a purveyor of the medical assistance scam. Put simply, the fraudster will describe an illness, injury or medical problem that can be cured with financial help. No matter how detailed and intense these stories may be, do not give in. Remember, if something was truly wrong with this member, would he or she be chatting casually on an online dating site?
The Good Samaritan
The key to any fraudster’s success is their ability to foster a level of trust. Often they will try to create a positive self-image by discussing their love of family members and friends. The tactic then switches to a discussion about a beloved family member’s health problems and the scammer’s efforts to save them. Do not offer to help anyone’s sick family members, as odds are very good this is fraud.
The most obvious form of fraud is possibly the one least guarded against. If you encounter a person soliciting for a business or investment plan, please proceed with extreme caution. Always remember (and no matter how close you might have become with this particular single) you did not join a dating site to invest in a new product, business or stock.
Knowing the preferred methods of online dating scammers will help you keep yourself safe. Nevertheless, the cardinal rule in avoiding online scams is to never send cash (or money orders, transfers etc) to anyone you meet on the net. In fact, it’s a good idea to even avoid giving out personal contact information until you get to know someone well. Good luck and stay safe.