Online dating started in 1995 with the launching of Match.com.
Since then, it has been on the rise, and now there are well over 1,500 dating websites and apps where singles can meet their potential significant other. One could think that more dating sites mean it will be easier for someone to go online and meet someone, but the contrary is true.
The online world has also become a hot spot for criminal activities. There are a lot of bad people waiting to take advantage of some desperate, naive and lonely people.
Documentaries such as The Tinder Swindler, show that some people are on online dating platforms for other things which have nothing to do with the purpose of the platforms. To make things worse, these flimflammers almost always get away with their ‘crimes’.
After watching a Dr. Oz interview and a Dr. Phil interview where they interview gullible women who were conned over $1 million each, I saw that there is a growing need for awareness regarding online dating scams.
This article has some basics that will help you dodge online dating scams and get a rewarding online dating experience.
You might swipe right and match with someone after just taking a quick glance at their pictures.
Once the two of you have matched and you can see that the two of you are getting closer, be sure to properly analyze their profile and make sure everything on there makes sense. If the profile has pictures that look like they have been downloaded from an online website, that might be a red flag.
As they say, Google has all the answers.
Before you start having a serious conversation with someone, do a basic Google search of their name and maybe their profession or any other aspect of their life to help narrow down the Google search.
This should allow you to see their digital footprint. There are very few people who are ‘ghosts’ and don’t have any information about themselves online.
You will be able to see the consistency between what they are telling you and what is online. If you can’t find anything, you might need to use the skills of your one friend who acts like they were once in the FBI.
Those simple background checks might save you in the long run. However, if you and your friend fail to find anything about this person online, you might need to start being skeptical.
Most scammers scam people who are in a different geographical location from them.
While one can manipulate locations using VPN, keep an eye on their patterns of texting. You might find that someone is almost always active online when it is supposed to be 2 AM where they are.
Almost all platforms now come with a video chat option which is just a click of a button away.
Scammers will avoid video chats because they look nothing like what their profiles suggest. If you match with someone and notice that whenever you suggest a video call, they always have an excuse not to hop on one, you might need to cut your losses before they crawl to your bank account.
The rule of thumb when chatting online is to never click on any links sent to you, especially by people you have never met.
Some scammers will send you links that allow them to steal your personal and banking information. Once someone sends you a link, the best thing you can do is block them and exit the chat.
The point of a dating app is to meet potential partners and date, not to ask for money.
Platforms like Gofundme and Backabuddy are there for that. If someone starts telling you about their financial problems and stating how you might be in a position to help them, cut communication immediately. They will start small and eventually ask for bigger amounts.
That is why they are on those platforms, and trust me, they are asking for money from more than one person.
Yes, being loved is nice but being told that you are loved by someone you have been chatting with for a few days or even hours is suspicious.
The idea is for them to make you think that they have fallen in love with you so that you become more vulnerable and fall for their scams.
Scammers have interesting and dramatic lives. There is always something wrong or worrying. Hearing their life story will keep you on an emotional rollercoaster, and you will likely get worried about their well-being.
They create this dramatic life so that they have a reason to ask you for money or make you attached to them in a way.
Considering the complications in how the legal systems can deal with online dating scams, I guess these sorts of crimes are going to be here for quite a long time.
When your gut tells you that something is not okay, trust it!
Do the best you can to remove yourself from that situation. If you are unsure about someone’s intentions, always bring it up and hear the thoughts of someone you trust who is not directly involved in this relationship.
Sadly, most victims keep these relationships to themselves and refuse to believe their family and friends when told that they are being scammed.
If you have been scammed, it will definitely be devastating and embarrassing to some extent but don’t be hard on yourself.
It happened, and there is nothing much you can do to fix it. Rather, what you can do is spread awareness and help someone not fall into the same trap. Report the incident to authorities and let your loved ones know. You will surely need their support.
Not everyone has good intentions, so always be aware!
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