As online dating popularity continues to soar, unfortunately the number of people falling for online dating scams is growing at an alarming number, too. According to the latest stats from Action Fraud, online dating fraud in the UK cost victims a heart-breaking £27 million in 2015.
The average loss stands at an eye-watering £10,000 per victim, with 50 - 59 year olds most likely to become victims of online dating fraud.
The easiest way to avoid falling for online dating scams is to wise up. With scams becoming more and more sophisticated, you can also help yourself by choosing an online dating site that puts your safety first. That will usually mean that you have to pay the site a membership fee, but a large proportion of your fee will go towards employing software and moderation teams to eliminate scammers before you come into contact with them.
These are 10 of the things to look out for when conversing with someone on an online dating site. It’s a harsh fact, but if the person seems too good to be true, they usually are.
1. They say flattering things to you
They say flattery gets you everywhere, but in this case, it’ll get you nowhere. Is the person showering you with compliments? If they message you first, they are likely to say something that makes you feel like they are really into you. This is your first warning sign, but wait for their next move before you dismiss them, as they could be a normal person who really does like you!
2. Their photos are too good to be true
Do they look like they could be a model, actor or are they dressed in a uniform? Is their profile picture polished, like a professional took it? This is your second warning sign, but again, it’s a clue, not necessarily a sure fire sign, so keep going with an open mind, but be vigilant at this stage.
3. They are very keen to take your conversation off the dating site
This is an absolutely classic move. Paid online dating sites scour their membership bases for scammers, and the technology used is so sophisticated that it could be a matter of seconds until a scammer is caught and thrown off the site. To counteract this, scammers say to you that they would rather communicate with you through personal emails, instant messaging and texts, rather than through the dating site. The excuses they give will sound relatively legitimate to you, but they are just trying to get you off the site, and away from prying eyes. Always keep your conversations online until you fully trust the person. At least two or three days, anyway.
4. They ask you lots of personal questions
Scammers tend to ask you lots of personal questions, pretending to be really interested in you. They might ask about past relationships, your hopes and dreams, what you would like to do when you retire. Whilst this is fine, and a normal part of getting to know someone, make sure your answers are not so personal that you are disclosing details of yourself that the scammer could use against you. Whatever you do, don’t give out your surname or personal details including your address or where you work.
5. They don’t talk about themselves much
Have you noticed that your love interest initially talked about themselves, but they haven’t said much since? That’s because a scammers past is made up, and it’s effort for them to remember which life story they are telling you, as they probably have many made up personalities, and are having conversations all day every day with new scam targets. Your new love interest could well be a scammer if you feel the conversation is very one sided.
6. The answers to their questions don’t add up
If they do tell you anything about themselves, they might slip up and say something that doesn’t really add up. This is a warning sign. Go with your instincts and gently call them out on it. It won’t hurt to ask why a few days ago they said they were 10 when they moved to England, when today they mentioned they were born in England, for instance.
7. They get very familiar with you
Are they calling you something affectionate like ‘Darling’ or ‘Sweetheart’ even though you have only spoken to the person a few times? Are they talking about settling down with you, or spending all their time with you? This behaviour would make most people uncomfortable, so keep your wits about you if someone starts doing this, don’t get too attached just yet and watch for their next move.
8. They don’t approach the subject of speaking on the phone
When online dating, chatting through email is all very well, but online dating usually progresses from one level to the next. If your online date has no desire to speak on the phone, this is a big red flag.
9. They don’t approach the subject of meeting in person
People who are messaging and phoning each other usually eventually want to meet in person. If your love interest doesn’t want to meet up, or keeps canceling dates, this is another big red flag. This person is most likely situated in a different country, with no desire to meet you in person, just to hook you in enough to start their next level of tactics...
10. They tell you a sob story
Has something suddenly happened to your online date? A family emergency perhaps? Maybe it might be that their family member has become ill and they haven’t got enough funds to cover their treatment. Do they want to visit you but they don’t have enough money? Under no circumstances - how ever much you believe them, or have fallen for them - send them any amount of money. It’s not normal to send money to someone you’ve never met, it’s also not normal to ask for it! If you encounter this behaviour, it’s best to cut all ties and move on. It might go against your feelings, but this person doesn’t care about you, they only care about getting your money.
A few more words of warning...
Scammers usually prey on the seemingly vulnerable. Those who have been divorced or widowed may be an ideal target for a scammer. You’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about if you keep these tips in mind, and keep your wits about you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of if you find yourself being initially reeled in by a scammer. As I mentioned earlier, scammers are becoming very, very clever, and as they earn more and more money, they can afford to spend longer on you rather than feeding you robotic stories.
This post by WeLoveDates.com outlines the other types of dating scam you could come up against.
This real video diary shows exactly the kind of tactics that Romance Scammers use against men and women. It even shows the Whatsapp messages of the moment the scammer asked for money.
This post is not intended to put you off online dating, far from it, in fact. Online dating should be fun and it is fun, as long as you are taking caution and protecting yourself, you’ll be sure to find your perfect match!
Follow Lucy Clarke on Twitter: @lclarkecouk
Visit Lucy’s Website: lclarke.co.uk