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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 any remotely suspicious contact.

Having heard first hand stories of friends 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 with after their tour of duty’, we’ve pulled together a 9 point checklist to help identify typical 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. Find out how to identify online dating scammers. Read our checklist now!


  • 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 popped up on several websites devoted to romance scams.
  • TALK ON THE TELEPHONE ASAP.  Someone who sounds plausible online may 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  DATA TO ANYONE until at least you meet face-to-face first and 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 in 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, The new love of your life seems to look like a supermodel or amazingly handsome in the pictures they send you. If you’re suspicious upload their photo on, you 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 members paying a registration or subscription fee to than 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 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 might 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. 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 at what they do. If you’ve been a victim you’re not alone, so do tell someone. Whether you’ve been a victim or have realised that someone is a scammer before you become one.  Anyone who’s been a victim of a romance scam should:

  • 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 dating website concerned
  • If you have 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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