When online dating became a thing in 1995, less than one in every five adults even used the Internet. Fast forward 20 years, it is now the most common way that single adults make romantic connections. According to a report published by USA today, one in every three marriages began through online dating sites. Nearly 40% single American adults are currently using an online dating website or app to find a significant other.
With the success and popularity of online dating, unfortunately comes the opportunity for scam artists. Although there is limited data on how often scans are conducted through an online dating service, it is so pervasive that many safe dating sites have warnings that specifically advise users not to give financial information to someone they’ve met online.
According to the most reputable safe dating sites, here are a few red flags that the person you’re connecting with may be a scam artist:
- They try to set up a channel of communication outside of the dating site immediately. Good safe dating sites have protocols to identify and remove users who exhibit scam artist characteristics. As such, a scammer often wants to get you off the radar before they are caught and blocked.
- They have poor language skills. Many times, online dating scam artists perform their heist while sitting in front of the computer on the other side of the world. Regardless of where your suitor claims to be from, if they use unusual words or have awkward sentence structures, it is a good sign that they are using an automatic translation service or that English is not their first language.
- They are never able to meet in person. There are a lot of reasons why a scam artist will not meet you in person. As mentioned before, often times they are working out of a foreign country. Almost always, their profile photograph was stolen from the internet, so their gig would be up the moment you saw them in person. Obviously, the more anonymous they are, the easier it will be to get away with it.
- They will pull at your heartstrings. Many times, a scam artist will use their personal tragedy to bond with you. If you say that you’ve lost a family member, most likely they will say they have to.
Almost always, when they believe they have you hooked, a disaster will strike and “out of desperation,” they will ask you for assistance. They have a business deal that will go belly up unless they get immediate financing. They have a child who is desperately ill. They promise to pay you back as soon as they can access their funds; the moment you give them your financial information, you will never hear from them again.
Tips for Avoiding a Scam:
- Use a reverse image search to ensure that your potential date’s profile image wasn’t stolen.
- Even if your suitor has a good reason for being unable to meet, insist on using a video conferencing service like Google Hangouts or Skype. If this is a sham, they will hightail it like a roach when the lights turn on.
- Don’t give personal information out. For example, you can say you’re a nurse or a teacher, but do not say where.
- Report a user who is giving you the heeby geebies to the safe dating sites you use, to protect the rest of the dating community.