Dating scams online can be a punch in the gut when you are just a good person trying to find the love of your life.
You work hard and you invest for your future; don’t let some scammer loser come mess all of that up.
If you have been the victim of a romance scam, you are not alone. A recent Federal Trade Commission report said 70,000 people annually reported a romance scam.
Oh, and these scammers seek your hard-earned cash. The FTC reported losses hit $1.3 billion. The median reported loss was $4,400.
Protecting your heart and your wallet means recognizing dating scams online before it is too late.
These fraudulent romance scams online prey on vulnerable individuals, leaving them emotionally and financially devastated.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the insidious nature of romance scams, common red flags to watch out for, and essential steps to protect yourself from falling victim.
Dating Scams Online: The Anatomy of a Romance Scam
Romance scams typically begin innocently enough. You may encounter someone on a dating app or social media platform who appears charming, attractive, and genuinely interested in getting to know you.
Scammers often use fake profiles and stolen photos to create a persona that seems genuine and trustworthy. However, behind the facade lies a cunning scammer with ulterior motives.
Once they’ve established contact, scammers employ various tactics to manipulate their victims. One of the most common strategies is to move the relationship forward at an accelerated pace.
They shower you with compliments, professing their love and devotion within a remarkably short period. While genuine connections can develop quickly, it’s essential to exercise caution when things progress too rapidly, as this could be a red flag for potential fraud.
Red Flags to Look Out For
#1 Moving Too Fast
Genuine relationships take time to develop. If your online match declares their undying love after only a few interactions, it’s a major warning sign. Scammers use this tactic to create a sense of urgency and pressure you into making hasty decisions.
#2 Requesting Communication Outside the Platform
Another red flag is when your match insists on communicating via email, text message, or phone calls instead of using the messaging features within the dating app or website. This allows them to avoid detection by site moderators and increases the likelihood of manipulating you in private conversations.
The FTC reported 40% of people who said they lost money to a romance scam said the contact started on social media; 19% said it started on a website or app.
#3 Avoiding Video Calls or In-Person Meetings
Scammers often come up with excuses to avoid video calls or face-to-face meetings. They may claim to be too busy, traveling, or have unreliable internet connections. Refusal to engage in video calls can indicate that they’re hiding their true identity or are not who they claim to be.
#4 Inconsistencies in Their Story
Pay attention to inconsistencies or discrepancies in the information they provide. Scammers often forget details or get their stories mixed up, especially if they’re juggling multiple victims simultaneously.
#5 Asking for Money or Financial Information
Perhaps the most significant red flag is when your online love interest requests money or financial assistance. They may come up with elaborate stories about emergencies, medical bills, or travel expenses, but the ultimate goal is to exploit your generosity for their financial gain.
The FTC reported the most common lie scammers tell is, “I or someone close to me is sick, hurt, or in jail.”
Here’s some other romance scams red flags, according to the FTC.
Protecting Yourself: What You Can Do
#1 Never Send Money
Regardless of the circumstances or how convincing they may seem, never send money to someone you’ve met online. Legitimate partners will not ask for financial assistance from someone they barely know.
#2 Do a Reverse Image Search
To verify the authenticity of their profile pictures, use a reverse image search tool like Google Images. This can help you uncover if the photos have been stolen from elsewhere on the internet.
#3 Trust Your Instincts
If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts. Don’t ignore any doubts or suspicions you may have, even if you’re emotionally invested in the relationship.
#4 Verify Their Identity
Request to video chat or meet in person to confirm the person’s identity. Genuine individuals will be willing to engage in face-to-face communication to build trust and credibility.
#5 Report Suspicious Activity
If you suspect that you’re being targeted by a romance scammer, report their profile to the dating platform or social media site immediately. This helps protect other users from falling victim to the same deception.
#6 Educate Yourself
Stay informed about the latest scams and fraud tactics circulating online. Knowledge is your best defense against falling prey to manipulative schemes.
Dating can feel hard enough and romance scams add another layer of difficulty. Don’t get discouraged by scammers preying on the vulnerabilities of individuals seeking love and companionship.
By familiarizing yourself with common red flags and taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim and get that much closer to finding the love of your life.
Stay vigilant and trust your instincts.
Genuine relationships are built on trust, mutual respect, and open communication.