As anyone typically knows, there are people lurking around every digital corner just looking for their next victim so don’t you become one of them. Although you stand a pretty good chance of not having the wool pulled over your eyes it still stands to say you might benefit from some of the tips we’re going to cover in today’s friendly little post.
Let’s talk about online dating scams
Firstly, what are they and why should you even be concerned over them in the slightest? If you’re not at all, or never plan to be a part of the whole online dating scene then you can probably just disregard this entire article, it’s not going to apply to you. Maybe you’ll want to check out some of the other neat and helpful things we’ve got waiting for you RIGHT HERE.
The majority of these scammers like to target online dating sites and personals type pages such as the one you’ll find on Craigslist. Here’s a pretty astonishing figure from back in 2012, which was a while ago so you have to wonder what this number has grown to on today’s online dating scene. The Federal Trade Commission received over 10 thousand complaints from victims of online dating scams. The grand total of financial losses from these complaints totaled somewhere around $100-Million Dollars! Just think, that figure doesn’t even account for those people who were probably too embarrassed to even file a complaint.
Who do scammers target?
I’m sorry to say it but there does seem to be a bias in targets for these scams and its females. The victims of these scams often fall into certain categories and divorced, widowed and disabled women seem at the top of the list.
One particular cautionary tale involves a woman who was swooned by some guy proclaiming to be an engineer who happened to live nearby. That guy wound up sweeping this poor lady off of her feet and took her for over $150,000 in all. This was done by convincing her that he had lost his tools that he desperately needs for work, to which she agreed to wire him money to replace them. He also got her for a few other expenses but the real kicker is when he finally announced that he was returning to the States after a prolonged business trip. He wound up not showing on two occasions the pair had made plans to meet face to face at the airport.
Who are these scammers anyway?
These scammers operate out of a few choice locations most of the time. Though it’s true you can find them crawling out of their pits from any corner of the globe, there are more dense populations of these scammers in African countries like Nigeria and Ghana. You’ll also find them in Malaysia, Eastern Europe and possibly in the UK as well as Canada.
Basically, you’ll find them anywhere.
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How do these scams work?
The typical online dating scam works in parts. The first part being of course the creation of an enticing profile on your usual dating sites. Once they set it up and make it as appealing as possible without setting off any alarms in the reader’s mind (or on the site itself) they go fishing for victims!
After a few unsuspecting potential victims take the bait and are hooked the scammer will manufacture a sense of trust between themselves and their target. They do this by the usual means of exchanging flattering messages, texts and even phone calls over a length of time. This amount of time could last weeks or in some cases even months.
Once that trust is established you’ll usually see the scammer say something along the lines of they need to travel out of the country for work. Perhaps they had some sort of tragedy befall them, whatever the case may be- but you can rest assured it’s going to require money to fix the issue.
Once the trust is there, they’re going to hit you (or the victim in this case) with a request to send them some cash as quickly as possible. They’ll give you this elaborate sob story in hopes you just won’t question them, and once the money is theirs you’re not going to hear from them again. That is unless they feel they can just keep milking you for every dollar you have.
A few “red flags” to watch out for
Before you wind up tangled in a scammer’s web, here are some things to look out for.
- They claim to live in the USA but have a job which takes them overseas. They might claim to be something prestigious like a “businessman”, or an engineer, possibly even an on-duty soldier.
- They’re going to try to pull you off the site for chats. This could be either by email or text message. Though this is a very common practice these days by non-scammers, it’s something to still look out for.
- They try to garner trust by sharing personal stories and in return begin asking you for personal details on yourself. Don’t share too much, they might use this to try breaking into your accounts online.
- They become overly flirtatious and flatter you on a very constant basis. If they’re out on a “business trip” they might even promise to propose to you when they return!
- If they call you and have an unexpected accent, that’s a major red flag.
- If they contact you with a sob story then ask for money after knowing you for a few weeks or months, yet another huge red flag.
Avoiding these scams
Try slowing things down some. Take your time when getting to know these new people you’ve discovered on dating sites. Chances are high that if you’re dealing with a scammer they’re going to get frustrated from “moving to slow” or they’ll get super pushy and eventually just disappear altogether.
Always perform a reverse image search. When they share pictures of themselves with you run them through Google’s image search both as it is and mirrored horizontally. So if you get a picture where the guy you’re talking to is facing left, find some free program online that will flip it so he’s looking right instead… mirror it.
The reason for this is due to the fact that Google’s image search isn’t capable of identifying pictures which have been flipped.
Reverse look-up their phone number if you’ve got it. See who’s name really owns that line they’ve been texting you from.
Set up a meeting in public, in person. If you request to meet up in some public place and they keep turning you down just block and delete them. This goes double for those who have already built a bit of trust with you. They don’t want to meet you because they aren’t who they claim to be.