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Protect yourself now. How to identify online dating scammers

top-tips-29 clever ways to avoid online dating scams

With literally thousands of dating sites of every type and description the internet is still one of many good places to find a partner. Sadly, it can also be a place where you can be ripped off if you don’t keep your wits about you and plug into your common sense so try not to be swept away by the romance until you’ve done your homework and checked out anyone remotely suspicious.

Having heard first hand stories of people almost taken in by an ‘African Prince’,  or a recently widowed Army Colonel ‘stranded in a battle zone unable to access their money and get home after their tour of duty’, we’ve pulled together a 9 point checklist to help you identify dating scammers.

Avoid the heartbreak and big money losses from someone who turns to be a cold hearted cyber-criminal who’ll use every trick in the book to take your money. Find out how to identify online scammers and read our checklist now!

PROTECT YOURSELF NOW! – READ OUR 9 POINT CHECKLIST 

  • USE GOOGLE OR ANOTHER SEARCH ENGINES TO CHECK THEM OUT. If you meet someone online who seems a bit cagey about their life or seems too good to be true they generally are. Check out who they say they are online, or cut and paste one of their e-mails into google. One prospective victim found that the exact words the scammer used popped up on several websites devoted to romance scams.
  • TALK ON THE TELEPHONE ASAP.  Someone who sounds plausible online may turn out to be an obvious fraud on the phone.  Scammers claiming to be from the military and on some kind of special operational duties may tell you that they’re not allowed to make or take phone calls.  (PS that’s not true!).
  • DON’T PURSUE A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP WITH A STRANGER ONLINE. Looking for a local partner drastically reduces your odds of being scammed, most scammers target victims outside their areas or own countries to avoid being tracked down, confronted or caught.
  • GUARD YOUR PRIVACY, NEVER REVEAL PERSONAL INFORMATION TO ANYONE until at least you meet face-to-face and over time develop a level of trust. Although it’s tempting to share every detail of your life with a person you think you could be in love with, that’s exactly what the scammer is counting on.
  • PAY ATTENTION TO LANGUAGE. Many online dating scammers committing these crimes are from places like West Africa and former Soviet Republics. If it seems that their use of English is a bit odd and some things they refer to don’t stack up, that’s a big warning sign. Use your instinct and check them out.
  • CHECK OUT THEIR PHOTO.  If the new love of your life seems to look like a supermodel or amazingly handsome in the pictures they send you, check them out. If you’re at all suspicious upload their photo on tineye.com which may be able to see where their photo has appeared.

    (Many online dating scammers and other con artists use a photo they’ve taken from a social media page like Facebook. Using photos and profiles of military personnel is another popular scam)

  • STICK TO PAID ONLINE DATING SITES. If  they’ve joined a fee paying dating site their credit cards numbers and details will be on file, so they’ll be easier to catch.  Still stay alert though, don’t assume paid sites are free of scammers, they may just have fewer of them or the members who have been targeted have realised what they’re up too,  but haven’t reported them yet.
  • BE SUSPICIOUS, trust your instinct. If someone wants to switch from contacting you though the dating site and wants your e mail address straight away, they may be trying to access your computer and personal information.
  • DON’T FALL FOR THEIR HARD LUCK STORY. Online dating scammers are incredibly inventive and will work hard to sound very plausible. Many scammers claim to have lost a spouse, child, or parent in an accident or say they have a relative who is very ill, or that they’ve lost their ticket, or claim they’re on their way to visit you, have lost their ticket, having problems with their credit card etc. They can be very inventive.  Whatever their story, NEVER send money.

What to do if you’ve been a victim of dating fraud

With large amounts of money at stake, online dating scammers are very clever, very resourceful and very experienced criminals. If you’ve been a victim or think someone has tried to scam you,  you’re not alone, so do tell someone. If you’ve  been a victim of a romance scam:

  • CALL ACTION FRAUD (the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre) on 0300 123 2040.
  • BREAK OFF ALL CONTACT IMMEDIATELY
  • REPORT THE SCAMMER TO THE CHAT ROOM OPERATOR OR THE DATING SITE CONCERNED
  • IF YOU’VE SENT MONEY, DON’T SEND ANY MORE

Have you been contacted by an online dating scammer?   What was their story?  What ways did you use to check out someone you thought sounded suspicious?

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