Don’t get scammed by online dating

It can be a sad, sad world out there. You’re looking for love, think you’ve found it, and then all of a sudden you’re left with a broken heart and empty bank account. We’ve all be vulnerable, especially when looking for love. And while the internet is often a great place to find it (58% of women and 48% of men have reportedly dated online[1]), it’s often not as safe as we would wish. There are two umbrellas that encompass internet dating scams: scam by dating sites or agencies themselves and scam by website members independently of the website.

Website scams

Yes, it’s a seemingly not gender-neutral world out there. While media gives more attention to lonely old maids than to men who age gracefully, the social networks that connect men and women favor females: it can cost more for men to go out to clubs, it’s still common practice for a waiter to slide the check to the man, and bartenders naturally assume it’s the men buying the drinks. But online, legit sites (including escort-dating ones) are gender-neutral. As there are more women than men looking for love on the internet, any site that charges men more to join are scams. This is especially true if you can’t see who’s online before you join. Most legit sites have weekends free or “view your matches for free”, where you set up a profile and then see who you’re connected with, but must pay after that period of time ends or to get access to certain parts of the site. Conclusion: keep your wallet in your pocket if an agency claims that only men have to pay to see their abundance of available women.

Member scams

If you don’t live in a major metropolis where it’s easy to find an escort pr meet online and then, only hours or days later, for a drink in the flesh, discerning who’s real and who’s not takes a bit of time and patience. And unfortunately those are two things that scammers seem to have in abundance. Most scammers post fake profile pictures (often lifted from modeling or dating sites or even something as simple as a Facebook or Google search) to target certain demographics of those who are not only looking for a date, but who already in particularly more vulnerable positions (those over forty, recently divorced, widowed, in remote locations etc.). They post information to come across in the same light—recently alone and/or isolated—to draw out a natural sense of sympathy and camaraderie. But they’ll also include just enough self-successes to impress (jobs, homes, cars, vacations etc.). Over the course of weeks (or months) they’ll get personal, responding to big life questions and minute details, with emotional words or quips that sound unique and personal. They may even send small gifts so that you have something in the flesh. They’ll make an appointment to meet you, but something drastic will come up. Then they’ll ask for a simple favor: for you to ship something to them or cash a money order that they were paid with… And that’s when you get busted and realize that escorts exist for a reason. It may sound like a process that’s easy to see through, but it’s one that’s been used universally for years before online dating became popular. Outside of the escort dating world, scams pry not on the business aspect, but the personal. The scammers often run many schemes at once, and so have the time to slowly eek out information that will encourage you to send them money in order to get them into your arms. So, how do you figure out who’s for real and who’s not?

  1. Know what you’re looking for. The better idea you have of what you need, the harder it will be to confuse you.
  2. Demand specifics. In this day and age most basic information about people is a Google search away. Find out where they work and their full name, and start from there. Hopefully you have pictures as well, so you can pull them altogether.
  3. Look at the map. If you’re speaking with someone in a remote place that you don’t travel to often, and the person doesn’t ever come to your region for work, beware of the actuality that they don’t really want to meet you. This is obviously not true of everyone you’re going to meet online, but the sooner you book something face-to-face, the sooner you’re validating that you can have a real life connection. Speaking of geography: How normal is it for a Ukrainian nurse (no matter how gorgeous her pictures) to accept Western Union transfers in Barbados?
  4. Beware of anything outside the norm, on their side. Do they live in Ohio but work in, say, Nigeria? Seriously? The most common scams come from those in certain parts of Africa who claim to be white Americans / Canadians working for a company there. They’ll want you to cash money orders for them or send them some things from the U.S. Don’t. And never talk to them again. The goods will have been stolen and, weeks after you’ve sent the money, your bank will notify you that those money orders were forged and you have to pay the difference.
  5. In general, keep alert for requests for money, and keep yours to yourself at all times. It’s bad enough dating someone who’s constantly mooching on you. So why risk sending some to someone you’ve never even met? No matter how emotionally close you feel online, no one should ask you for money unless they’ve known you personally for a long time. Would you loan a coworker your last $1,000? Probably not—and you know them.