In the modern world, a growing number of people are choosing to use online dating sites and apps to find love. While online dating is more convenient than traditional methods, it does come with downsides. One of the main issues associated with online dating is that you can never be sure that the person you’re talking to is really who they say they are.
The rise of online dating has also led to a rise in the number of people being scammed online, with romance scams now being one of the most common. A romance scam is where the scammer gains their victim’s trust through an online dating service before asking them to send money.
In 2021, romance scams conned people out of an estimated $547 million, but the actual figures could be even higher. Although dating services are making efforts to curb these scams, users also need to be vigilant. ExpressVPN reveals how to avoid online dating scams, and we have some more tips below.
The Online Romance Progresses Too Quickly
The normal process of meeting someone online is to chat briefly before agreeing on a date to meet in person once you’ve developed an interest. With scammers, the process is often a little different. Naturally, they don’t want to meet in person, as they often pretend to be someone else and use fake pictures.
Instead, they’ll progress the idea of romance and love as quickly as possible, hoping to emotionally manipulate you and make you fall for them, even without meeting in person. They may use tactics known as love bombing, which can feel good but is ultimately based on lies and manipulation.
Be wary of anyone professing their love for you before you’ve had a chance to meet in person. In addition, you should be cautious of letting someone emotionally manipulate you or make you feel like you should love them back.
Their Profile Doesn’t Contain Many Pictures
Scammers will typically use fake photos they find online, usually from someone’s social media page. Because they’re limited in the pictures they can use, they normally won’t post very many. Also, the images they post may often be unclear or unfocused, making it harder to distinguish them.
You can also sometimes spot inconsistencies in a scammer’s profile by looking at where their pictures were taken. For example, if they’ve posted a few pictures of them next to famous landmarks, you can ask them about their trip to that country and try to catch them in a lie.
Your Date Keeps Asking for Money
This is an obvious one, yet many people tend to overlook it, especially if they’re already developed feelings. Scammers use a lot of different tactics to ask for money, making themselves seem like they’re more than able to pay it back but are just in a tight situation at the moment. They might also use emotional manipulation, telling you they need to pay for hospital treatment or buy a flight to come and visit you.
Scammers often ask you to send them gift cards, which is a big red flag. Gift cards are easier to use for fraudulent purposes, allowing them to get around fraud filters. Alternatively, they may ask you to use mobile payment services or to send a wire transfer which can’t be reversed.
Although your date might have a believable reason for why they need the money, it’s always best to tell them that you don’t have anything to lend them. It’s important to note that you should never give money to anyone you don’t trust, especially if you’ve never met them in person.