Dating sites are rife with fake profiles today, and the number of victims of romance scams is on the rise. You’ve heard the stories of lonely hearts who ended up lonely and poor after giving online tricksters their hard-earned cash.
The good news is that romance scams are getting easier to detect. They tend to fall into several main categories.
Most of them occur through dating sites and apps. In rarer cases, scammers find victims by email or on social networks. At the beginning of their interaction with a potential victim, they will always seem genuine and caring and make it appear like they have a legitimate romantic interest. You might be lonely and fall for it easily. After all, when someone wants to believe something, it’s hard for them not to, and the heart triumphs over the mind in these matters.
Without further ado, here are some tips to avoid romance scams and ways to identify the most common ones.
They Won’t Meet You in Real Life
A romance scammer will always have a plausible reason why they can’t meet you. Some will even go so far as to pretend to be an aid worker, a member of the military, or another profession that makes working remotely necessary.
If you’re starting to suspect they’re not even in the same country as you, use an online IP finder tool to check.
Another sign is if they’re only available to chat at odd hours, like very early in the morning or late at night. They might be in a different time zone.
They Shorten the Distance too Soon
People normally take some time to talk and get to know each other before things get more intense. Scammers will start to express strong feelings relatively soon because they have no time to waste. The victim might give them personal information, which they will then misuse. Never provide sensitive details to anyone you haven’t met in real life.
They Insist on Taking the Conversation Elsewhere
Not all dating sites are safe, to begin with. The leading ones have some security features, and the scammer will try to lure the victim away from it to a less-secure channel, like a social medium. This is an attempt to get more information about the victim to use against them later.
Don’t give your email or phone number to people you don’t know well enough. Among other things, it can expose you to the risk of breach.
To move away from the dating app, use an alternative email or number that is not linked to sensitive information.
Scammers avoid answering basic questions like what they do for a living. They will respond very generally if you ask where they live. At the same time, they will insist you tell them. They might provide contradictory or inconsistent information about themselves.
You’ve spent quite a bit of time interacting, but you have no idea how they look. Seeing their face will help you a lot if they turn out to be a scammer. Asking for a video call is one way to check.
It’s not advisable to share photos or videos of yourself and your loved ones with strangers on the internet. They could be trying to stay safe too, so unwillingness to reveal one’s face doesn’t necessarily mean they are a scammer. They could be painfully shy.
You haven’t seen what they look like, but you still want to meet them? Do so in public and in broad daylight.
The Bottom Line
The more information you share, the more vulnerable you become. Use different emails to protect your privacy and different usernames on different dating apps. Know that anything you post online can potentially be traced back to you, revealing sensitive information, and ill-meant entities will take advantage of it.
Even if they never find out your real name, phone, or where you live, don’t overshare personal information. Strangers on the internet don’t need to know why your last relationship fell apart or how sad you are about having lost a loved one recently.