How to Spot an Online Dating Scam
If you find yourself frustrated by the dating scene, you may be thinking about searching for love online. Dating online is convenient, however it’s important to exercise a bit more caution since the online dating world is often an attractive place for scammers to conduct financial fraud. Due to the somewhat anonymous nature of dating online (depending on how much information you display in your profile), it can be easy to fall victim to a dating scam.
FBI public affairs correspondent Mollie Halpern said dating scams can have a significant financial impact. “Romance scams, also known as confidence scams, result in the highest amount of financial losses when compared to other Internet-facilitated crimes,” Halpern said.
Do what you can to reduce your chance of becoming a victim. Here are some signs you may be dealing with an online dating scam.
1. You hear the words “I love you,” very quickly
If your potential love claims to be in love with you very soon after you begin communicating, this is a red flag, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). How can he or she love you if you’ve barely had a chance to get to know each other? If this happens to you, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Be on guard for any other signs, because your online date may be professing love as a way to get you to lower your defenses. Stay aware and if at any point you feel uneasy about your communication or have doubts about his or her true intentions, you may want to do yourself a favor and end contact.
2. Your new love asks for money
After you’ve communicated for a few days or weeks, the scammer may ask for money, saying he or she wants to visit you, but can’t afford the trip. The scammer may claim he or she is currently overseas and needs financial assistance with travel costs. Whatever you do, don’t send money. For all you know, your new love is not overseas and is just trying to trick you out of your hard-earned cash.
3. You’re pressured to leave the site and communicate privately
Don’t give in to pressure to leave the dating site if you don’t feel comfortable communicating privately yet. Scammers will often push you to leave the site and exchange emails or text messages. This makes it easier for them to instill a false sense of security through lengthy messages so you’ll be more likely to agree to requests for money. The Better Business Bureau says scammers on Tinder often use this tactic. Although text and email is part of the initial getting-to-know-you phase, the Bureau warns that an immediate request should be cause for concern.
4. You’re asked to open a new bank account
This one might seem obvious, but if you’ve been blinded by the rush of what feels like falling in love, you’re likely to do almost anything for your newfound companion. The FTC warned consumers about fraudsters who use their digital relationships to commit online bank fraud. Here’s how it works: after convincing you to set up a new bank account, the fraudster will transfer stolen funds into the account and then ask you to wire money to another country. Without even realizing it, you’ve likely aided and abetted someone in committing a crime, says the FTC.
5. The profile photo is too good to be true
If your potential date looks a little too perfect, you may want to proceed with caution. Glamour shots, perfectly sculpted abs, and too-good-to-be-true looks may indicate something’s up. Maybe you’ll get lucky and meet up with a person who just happens to have model looks, but it still pays to be cautious. A perfect profile paired with a perfect picture could lead to trouble in paradise when it comes to your finances, warned the BBB.
What you can do
If you were victimized by a romance fraudster, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The Center is a partnership between the National White Collar Crime Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
So have fun meeting some potential new loves, but remember to always be careful when it comes to love and personal finances. Getting involved with the wrong person could mean the difference between financial health and financial disaster.