Millions of people resort to online dating these days. The chances of meeting someone in person when you are out and about seem like yesterday, but then you would not have encountered a foreign romance scammer. Online dating can be fun and you may be lucky to find your ideal partner. I know a few of such happy couples, so it can happen. Nowadays, you need to be cautious, though, as there are so many fake profiles floating around.
Smarter Online Dating to Avoid Romance Scammers
We do not think of it as a game when we are looking for love and partnership. However, it much resembles a game of chance. There are good online dating sites, but even they have fake profiles. You may be talking to a real person or you may be talking to a romance scammer, a fictitious or borrowed identity. And you may not find out it is the latter until it is too late.
There are several good articles and blogs on the subject of how to detect a romance scammer. For example, check out the online dating scam articles and blogs on The Federal Trade Commission’s website. There’s a wealth of information there. Also, read the comments from people who have been scammed.
The government agencies are on it and try to inform online daters. However, they’re not reaching everybody. Another reliable source is the FBI’s website. Online daters need to become smarter and more educated to save themselves from financial loss, heartache, and remorse.
So, why am I writing about this? Because online daters are still pouring out money right into the laps of romance scammers! The more people write about it, the more people see the writings and recognize the problem. The problem won’t go away as long as people keep feeding the source.
Hopefully this blog serves a wake-up call to someone who is about to be scammed or is currently being scammed or it is happening to their friend. The estimates I have seen suggest that roughly 10-12% of online daters are romance scammers. Likewise, social media has been infiltrated by them. So, is your date one of them?
Telltale Signs of a Romance Scammer
Anybody can become a target. ANYBODY! Keep that in mind. Nobody is an exception. Do not lull yourself into thinking it could not happen to you. When I was online dating for about a year, I ran into five scammers. Since then, I have also been approached by scammers in social media and networking organizations. You can find many writings and blogs about the warning signs, but still so many people fall into the trap that let’s reiterate the most common signs.
- Familiarity and trust. When you become in contact with a romance scammer, their first goal is to find out enough about you to know how to trigger the right emotions. Then they write along those lines to create a sense of familiarity and togetherness to instill trust. It’s like you finally met the right person, like you always knew them. In reality, they are just echoing what you have told them about yourself and the person you are hoping to find.
- Going off-site. They will soon want to move the conversation off the site where you met them. The dating site messaging system may be too limiting or too impersonal for them. Or, their subscription is ending. You may then be in contact by email or instant messaging, or they may establish phone contact, as well, if their English is good enough.
- Photos. Of course, you exchange more photos, but everybody wants photos, so that is not really a telltale sign as is. Unless they ask you for intimate photos. Then later, they could ask you to pay for not making those photos public. Just make sure you never send any intimate photos to anybody.
- Long-term relationship. They express their yearning for a romantic relationship and they are always looking for a long-term relationship. Your online partner is very sincere about it and you are just the one with whom they want to have that relationship. They ask questions about how your day was, what you had for dinner, what are you doing right now, etc. to make you feel you are in that long-term relationship.
- Age. You are most likely older than they are. They’ll say the age difference is a big plus, because you are more mature and they admire that in you.
- Children. Often the military men have a daughter in a boarding school or businessmen have a daughter traveling with them. Their bond with their daughter feeds your emotions.
- Inconsistencies in their story. Take notice of what they write and/or say to you. They make mistakes. They may tell you something today and then say something totally different a few days later. There may be two people writing to you, which could explain the inconsistencies and why the style of writing varies from one email or message to another.
- You never meet. This is a reality check for sure. Normally, when you meet someone online and you “click,” depending on your schedules, you would probably meet in person within two or three weeks, or even sooner. At least within a month. A romance scammer has plenty of reasons why you can never meet. They may be in the military and stationed abroad. They have business abroad and abruptly have to tend to it. You may set a date, but something unexpected happens and they cannot make it.
- Manipulation. Little by little they make you feel comfortable with them so that you feel you are in a real relationship. Very quickly they start expressing their feelings for you. Beware, they can be very persuasive. They flatter you and you start getting romantic emails and messages. This emotional manipulation can go on for weeks, maybe even months. As a result, as soon as they think you are ready, you will receive the first money request from the romance scammer.
The Primary Goal: The Money Requests
They will tell you how beautiful or handsome you are and all that good stuff. They have gotten to you and made you feel they are the right one for you and you for them. Then comes the day they need you to help them out in a bind. Or, they may ask you to invest in their business or handle a money transfer for them. It should be a big warning sign when someone you have never met asks you for money or to handle their money.
The request may be for a small amount at first. Hey, my credit card is not working and I’m stuck here, could you send some money for gas? Or, I’d like to listen to music, but I can’t buy an iTunes card here, so could you send me one?
After the initial money request comes another, and another. There may be a family emergency and they ask you for help. They need a laptop or a cell phone. Your partner is abroad tending to their business and somebody steals their wallet. They are on a ship and urgently need to close on a business deal, but cannot access their own funds.
There are many reasons why your long-term partner needs money and the reasons are usually urgent and dramatic. In addition, they may even ask you for money to come and see you, but do not bother. You will never see them, nor the money again.
How to Handle the Money Requests
Whatever the reason, when you get the first money request, stop right there. It probably is for a small sum and sounds harmless, but do not yield. Never send money to a person you have not met! No matter how comfortable you have gotten with them, remember, you have never met them in person. You don’t know who they really are. When money enters the scene, you know you are dealing with a scammer.
This is the time to break the emotional relationship they have established with you. It is no use confronting them and expressing your concerns about scamming. They will bring up the concept of trust and/or start abusing you verbally. It is simpler to cease all contact and erase and block them in messaging apps and on your phone. Think about it, use common sense. You are deleting a fictional character, a stranger, from your life. It is right to harden your heart and prevent further damage.
Finally, if you think a romance scammer is targeting you, you need to check them out before you are in harm’s way. Generally, a good practice would be to run at least an online people search on someone you might be thinking of dating. However, you may receive false positive results, if the scammer has stolen an actual person’s information for their profile. For accurate results, you may want to try an instant people search by a private investigator. The cost is comparable to most online people searches. Whatever you decide to do, run a check on them, for your safety.
If you liked this blog, to follow will be one to advise How to Expose Romance Scammers, which we all should do, if we encounter such a fake profile. Furthermore, there are general safety concerns when you put your information out there for others to see. You can find helpful advice in Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating. Whatever you do in your quest for love and romance, be safe!