It is so exciting to meet new people online, isn’t it? Online dating is the way we do dating these days. We put up a profile and hope to meet the right match. Or, someone contacts you out of the blue on a social media app. Let’s slow down a bit in all this excitement of meeting new people. Maybe we have let our guards down and common sense has flown out of the window.
A Quick Analysis of Online Profiles
It is not uncommon that people lie on their profile. Why do people do this? Are they even looking to start a relationship? Online dating sites and apps have a minor number of psychopaths, a small number of sex offenders, and a fair number of people who are already in a relationship but are looking for something else.
A vast number of people lie in their profile for various reasons. The general consensus suggests that a whopping 80% of people lie in their profile. That is a high figure. Maybe they want to appear more appealing than they actually are. Or, maybe they are not who they say they are.
Here we concentrate on online dating scammers who are after your money. With the rise of online dating sites and dating apps, we have come a long way from the Russian mail-order brides, who probably are still active, as well. Or, they may be in Africa now. Scammers still target men, but middle-aged women have become prime targets for the Nigerian, Ghanaian, Jamaican and so forth scammers.
You are more likely to run into a romance scammer on a free online dating website or social media, but there are plenty of them on paid sites, as well. The monthly fees, though they may seem high to you and me, are minuscule compared to what a scammer is attempting to collect from you. There are more than 2000 different kinds of dating sites in the US. The number keeps changing yearly, but there are plenty of opportunities for scammers.
What to Consider
Nowadays, dating sites and apps want you to answer all kinds of questions to better match you with someone. They suggest you upload more photos. Naturally, you post information about yourself to attract someone, but you don’t really know who’s out there reading it. It’s wise to be cautious as to just how much information to disclose to strangers. In addition, there are a few other precautions to take into account. So, let’s get on with the do’s and don’ts and start with the don’ts.
Don’ts of Online Dating
The first rule of thumb is not to give out too much personal information in your public profile. You’re out there to meet someone, so you have to give that someone enough information about who you are, but protect your private data. Describe yourself, i.e. what you are about, what you’re looking for and keep it at that.
The second rule of thumb is do not trust anybody until you have met that person in real life. Hence, keep the conversation on the site until you have met them. This is a hard one. It would be so much easier just to email or message on the phone. Or actually talk. But, do you want to give someone you don’t really know your personal cell phone number? If you want to message or talk on the phone, get an alternate free mobile number on Google Voice. Create a generic email account that is not attached to your personal data for just this purpose.
The third rule of thumb, never give anybody your address until you have met them and can trust them with that information. Online dating scammers frequently ask you for the address of your workplace or your home to send you flowers or gifts. You should not give up your actual workplace or home address to anyone you have not met in person. Ideally, hold onto your privacy until you have actually met the person a few times.
Romance, Not Money
Enough with the rules of thumb. The most important piece of advice is: Never send money to anybody you have met on a dating site or through a social media app! Don’t engage in any kind of monetary transaction. If you do, as a result, you will suffer not only financial loss but emotional loss, as well, and end up with a broken heart. In addition, you’ll be beating yourself for being so incredibly stupid.
Furthermore, do not share any financial information with anybody you have just met online, ever. I should not even have to say this, but never give anybody your bank account number or your credit card number. That is a no-brainer. Dating is supposed to be about romance, not money.
Do’s of Online Dating
Do your due diligence when you meet someone online. Check out their profile picture or any other pictures you receive. They can be genuine or they may be a real person’s photos and you may discover right away that things are not right. Also, run a check on their contact data.
The easiest way is to check a photo is to right click on their profile photo and select “Search Google for image.” Someone I know got this to reveal that a so-called military person who supposedly lived close to her had a fake profile. They had a photo of a real-life British officer as their the profile picture and used the officer’s information in their profile. The profile sounded false, anyway, so discovering the photo was the icing on the cake. Furthermore, Google image search lets you upload and check photos. That works well, if you’ve received photos in an email or messaging. Another website that works just as well is TinEye.
Email Addresses and Phone Numbers
Check out their email address and/or phone number. You can use any online email or phone number lookups, such as Spokeo or Instant Checkmate. However, they probably do not find results or give you incorrect results, if you are dealing with someone with a fake profile, like a scammer or, worse yet, a predator.
Pay attention to the style of writing in emails and messages you receive. If the language seems poor English, you are more than likely conversing with a scammer. Likewise, their content may differ from time to time, as your “perfect” online match may be two or more people writing to you as one person.
In addition, be realistic. A regular person wouldn’t start sending you romantic messages or emails in no time at all. Therefore, do a search on the love letter texts you receive. Copy the text, paste it on Google and see if it is a direct quotation of song lyrics, poem, or a novel. Chances are that you’ll find it. People with deceptive intentions are not so romantic that they would come up with the text themselves.
Be Safe on Dating Websites and Apps
Ideally, online dating should help you to connect with like-minded people and find your ideal mate. Unfortunately, it is not so easy. Online dating sites have profiles of people acting under false pretenses. They may be already married or in a relationship, but they’re looking for something extra. A few may be predators looking to hurt you or your children. Or, they may be romance scammers looking to pocket money out of you. You just have to be aware of the safety concerns and stay vigilant and hope you find that someone in the bit universe.
You can always have a licensed private investigator conduct a search for you. That will confirm if the person is who they say they are. Live PI searches are accurate, and if the search comes back with no results, it can yet be a beneficial result. It means the person does not exist, i.e. it’s a fake profile, and saves you from harm.
Protect yourself. Do not become a victim and lose your savings or retirement money. Do not let your heart be broken and consequently end up with emotional trauma. There are victims who have lost even millions of dollars. Some come out with their stories to help others avoid the same fate, some are too ashamed to even report it. Remember the old Beatles hit “Can’t Buy Me Love.” It is true, money won’t buy you love.