How to avoid and detect an online dating scammer? This post will cover the main aspects of catfishing and online romance scams.
Online Romance Scams: Overview
Scams and scammers are nothing new in our society. In fact, some notoriously famous scams have happened centuries ago.
With the internet, the proliferation of scams was almost guaranteed. The first online scams back to the 90’s, when the internet started to be widely used.
Currently, scams are almost a part of every aspect of the internet. And some of the most popular ones are catfishes, or, when someone impersonates a fictitious character to enter a romantic relationship with a real person.
Types of Online Romance Scams
There are several types of online dating scams, and new ones are created on a daily basis. While some are mostly harmless, other can bring serious emotional and financial damage to the victims.
All online romance scams start from the same point: creative a fake online persona. While some involve stealing photos of another person, some scammers even pretend to the celebrities. The goal is the same: attract and leverage the attention this fake persona provides.
Some online dating scams are actually people with low self esteem, that will put a photo of another person to get attention and affection. These are the most harmless ones, although, there is certainly significant harm even if all they do is creating false hopes to the victim.
The second and most popular type of online scam is a financial one. After creating attachment to the victim, the perpetrator will ask for money for various reasons. Visas, tickets, health issues, loans, you name it, there is always an excuse to ask for money.
The third and not so popular online romance scam happens when there is extortion and blackmailing. This happens when the dating scammer has access to personal data (photos, videos) acquired through the fake persona. The romance scammer threatens to publish the material if money is not sent.
How to Detect Online Dating Scammers
Detecting and avoiding online romance scammers is actually pretty simple (in most cases). Most online dating profiles that are fake have red flags everywhere. Let’s analyze a few of them below.
Stolen photos is one of the most prevalent signals of catfishing. Usually romance scammers will have less photos. And even if they have many, they usually will not send new ones over time, even when they claim to go to important events of trips.
To avoid and detect stolen photos, the best option is to use reverse image search. Image search works pretty much like searching for words. It will search for similar or identical images, which usually point to the real owner of the photo.
Online dating scammers will usually have some problem with the place they live or are at. Simply enough, they can’t really meet you, and this usually comes with shady and strange stories regarding their place of living.
This usually manifests in 2 ways. If the person lives somewhat near he/she will provide excuses to avoiding a meeting. Commonly used ones are “I have too much work, I have moved but I am coming back soon, I have to take care of a relative.
The other possibility is when as person of a wealthy country is living in a third world nation for work. A Swedish girl living in Ghana, an American living in Bangladesh.
West Africa is a common hub for online dating scams, as they speak good English and working opportunities are limited locally.
Frequent Unexpected Events
Another huge red flag when it comes to online dating scam, is the frequency of unexpected events that the scammer will provide you with. One week the scammer will have a broken pipe, the next week a sick relative.
These frequent unexpected events will help the scammer to buy time avoiding a meeting, but also to ask money. After all, it is an emergency.
If unexpected events happen at a ridiculously high frequency when you are talking to someone you met on an online dating app, odds are it is a romance scam.
How to Avoid Online Romance Scams
Now that we know how to detect online scams, it is time to avoid them. If you follow these simple steps below you will be able to filter the vast majority of online dating scams. Let’s get to them.
Request Video Chat
Requesting a video chat with the person you are talking to will certainly minimize the odds of being scammed drastically.
If the person is interested in you, there will no excuses to avoid a video and audio chat simultaneously. Scammers will find all types of excuses to not pick your call. Some scammers also play pre-recorded videos of other people, so make sure it is a video session with voice, too.
Even if you are talking to a real person, make sure facts match with what the person is providing. For example, an alleged Arab prince with a thick Nigerian accent, is probably not an Arab, neither a prince.
Don’t Send Money to an Online Dating Scammer
In any case, I believe you shouldn’t send money to anyone you chat online, before at least meeting them once.
If they ask for money for something specific like an Uber ride or a plane ticket to meet you, pay the service provider directly (buy the ticket for example). Even in these situation, avoid paying anything for someone you are chatting online.
Don’t Provide Sensitive Data
That is another aspect you should be careful when chatting with potential online dating matches. Avoid providing unnecessary or sensitive about yourself and your family/friends.
Do not share passwords, information about your wealth or even your exact address before actually meeting the person.
All this information can be used for blackmailing, or stealing money from your bank account, credit cards, etc.
Tell Friends and Report It
If you think you are a victim of online dating scammer, tell your friends about the situation. Depending on the situation and where you live, you may want to report the situation to the authorities.
If you live in the US, you can report it to the FCT.
Other Resources for Online Dating
If you are considering finding a match through online dating sites, you might want to check some of our other sites. Check how it is to date a Thai girl, and the best dating apps and sites in Colombia.