Dating online can be fun and exciting, not only for you but for online scammers as well. For the past decade, we have witnessed an influx of romance scams. Online dating sites are the playground for identity thieves, hackers, and several other nasty peoples. According to the FBI, there are some typical signs to identify such scams and protect yourself from getting duped.
FBI claims there has been a substantial increase in older victims becoming the target of online scammers. They often get duped of identity thefts, money laundering, and in worst cases, they are turned into unwitting “money mules.”
Most online daters worry a lot about their first date with potential matches. However, your main worries should be more about the scammer who refuses to meet you, even after repeated attempts.
These online fraudsters are exceptionally talented when it comes to conning you for love and money. Thankfully, all of them follow a typical pattern. With just a cautious mind, you can identify these red flags and save yourself from getting duped.
Online Security Tips to keep scammers at bay:
Stalk them on social media:
Yes, you read it right. We are urging you to stalk the person you meet online and seems like a good match. Most scammers either don’t have a social media presence, or they have a pretty basic profile. Social media can help you find some obvious red flags.
Some tips for identifying such profiles are:
They either have no or more than one social media profile.
They have a very low friend count.
Most of their photos online are model-like shots, and no activity related photos.
The profiles lack pictures of their friends or family members.
There are no tags on the pictures for any of their friends.
To keep your dignity intact, make sure you don’t become too creepy. Though snooping on someone’s social media accounts sounds outright sinister, it can save you from scams. This minor offensive step can actually be your best defense.
Make Google your best Friend:
Searching on Google has become a verb altogether. Googling is a common phenomenon these days, and people prefer searching for everything on Google. Just a simple knowledge of this search engine can help you from getting duped.
Google image search: With Google reverse image search, you can search anyone’s image from the person’s profile. If the results of your search show up images mentioning it belongs to people with different names and residing in separate locations, you may have good reason to suspect them.
Search for similar profile bio: It is typical behavior of a scammer to have the same profile bio in all their accounts. There can be many grammatical errors. Usually, scammers are from countries where English is not their main language. So, major grammatical errors always ring some warning bells.
Look for Red Flags:
As mentioned, there are some obvious red flags, which many people miss. Always keep an open eye and attitude to pick these subtle signs.
Beware if an individual seems too good to be true. Do check them online.
Beware if the individual persuades you to leave dating service and communicate directly through chatting apps of personal numbers.
Beware if the individual always evades meeting in person. Even if they agree, they will make excuses to cancel them over and over again.
Beware if the individual tries to isolate you from your loved ones and persuades you that everybody is against you, and he/she is the only person you should trust.
Beware if they confess their love for you too quickly, even before you meet them in person.
Keep a balanced mindset and protect your private information:
Online scammers are nothing but con artists. They are masters of deception. They know the exact ways to manipulate you and bring them into their narrative of life in general.
It’s easy for anyone to get fooled into thinking that you may have an intimate relationship with your online match. When you are constantly texting and talking to a person throughout the day, it’s obvious to feel a natural attraction to the other person.
However, while all this conversation is happening, you need to have a closer look. Ask yourself below questions:
Are you in constant touch with this person?
Why are they not ready to come face-to-face?
Are you prepared to get so much emotionally involved with a person who is not ready to come out of this phantomized image?
Don’t fool yourself thinking into you have an intimate relationship because you are connected online. You must always approach online dates practically. Always refrain from getting emotionally invested in a person before you met them for real. Romance scammers know how to convince and manipulate you.
Don’t get money involved:
Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone, this is just basic. Isn’t it? If your online prospect gives you a sob story or a convincing story that they need some financial help on an urgent basis, don’t fall into that trap.
Even if you want to help, do it the right way. If they claim they are U.S. citizens stuck in foreign locations and need funds, refer them to their local U.S. Embassy. If you still want to send money, do it via the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) Trust. Always refrain yourself from transferring funds from your personal bank account.
Once you send money, you will be a cash cow for life. It’s always ok to say, “No.” If their love or affection is genuine for you, then they will stick around- with money or no money.
Meeting your online date is a crucial milestone. We recommend if you are staying in the city, it must happen within the first week. If they are in a separate city or country, at least have a virtual face-to-face interaction. There is no dearth of video chatting apps these days, which is making them avoid it.
Moreover, listen to your gut. Your instincts never deceive you. If you feel something is not right, leave it then and there. You can take the help of a friend or someone from a family who can give you a third-person perspective on your situation and an online relationship. That’s the best you could do when you have any doubt.