According to experts at Kaspersky.com “In 2016, the US Federal Trade Commission received 11,235 complaints about dating and romance scams. By 2020, that figure had risen to 52,593. Losses to online dating scams in the US topped $300 million in 2020. In the UK, the equivalent figure was £68 million.”
Shocked by what you just read? Don’t be! This is real, and in the online world, it is on the rise. Catfishing and online dating scams are prevalent these days, and if you are on dating apps or on online dating sites, looking for your soulmate, you need to be very wary about the people you share private and confidential information with. Now this is not only with straight people, but with the LGBTQIA community as well- no one is safe, period!
What are online dating scams like?
Sources at FTC.gov say in 2020, there were a lot of reported losses which originated in romance wand dating scams- $304million to be precise. This was double the rate from 2019. For an individual it meant a person loss of $2500. They go on to say that “From 2016 to 2020, reported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold, and the number of reports nearly tripled.”
There are millions across the world that log on to dating apps and social media sites to find love. To find someone that loves you truly that is. Making a profile online is not that tough, but finding the right person surely is. Some are lucky to have found true love and romance; others have not- they lost more than just hope- they lost money and more. These are scammers, waiting to prowl on someone’s vulnerability and ask for money in due course of time.
Identify the lies the scammers tell
Most of the scammers want money, and they would go to any lengths to get that from you. That is if you are not wary and don’t pay heed to the red flags. They would say that they are travelling out of the country or living abroad, and would like to come and meet you. Don’t fall for that. That’s the first red flag to be wary of.
Other lies that scammers say are-
- They are employed in oil rigs
- They work for the military
- They are doctors with an international organization
They would ask you to do the following if you “love” them
- Pay for their airfare and other travel expenses
- Pay for medical bills, surgeries etc
- Pay the customs on their behalf to retrieve gifts they have brought for you
- Pay their debts – gambling debts or even,
- Pay for their visas and other travel documents.
How do they ask you to pay?
- Wiring funds to them
- Through MoneyPak or reload cards
- Gift cards from famous vendors, such as iTunes, Steam, Google Play or even Amazon.
Dos and Donts while online dating
So how does one be safe while searching for love online or dating online. Here are a few tips to follow.
- Go slow- don’t rush into the dating game.
- Ask the person a lot of questions about themselves.
- Watch for inconsistent answers now and then.
- Use the GOOGLE SEARCH BY IMAGE feature to check their photos online. Check if the same picture appears online or not. If yes and if it is by a different name, you have a scammer talking to you.
- Be wary of the overtly flirtatious and loving messages and emails they send you.
- Cut off at once if you have the slightest iota or doubt that the person is a scammer.
- Notify the dating app or site, where you met the scammer at once.
Those were the Dos, now for the Don’ts.
- Scammers have plenty of fake profiles online, and they wait for victims to connect with them. Don’t feel safe because you connected with them first.
- Do not give out your personal information on any dating app or site- not too much- just the basics would do. Not even if you chatted with the person for three to four times, to begin with. You can become a victim of identity theft.
- No intimate photos should be given online, which the scammers use later to extort money from you.
- No sending gift cards or cash to someone you just chatted with online.
Sources at aarp.org clearly say that“The FBI warned on Sept. 16 that romance scammers have persuaded victims to send money or purportedly invest in cryptocurrency, leading to $133 million in losses arising from 1,800 complaints in the first half of the year.”
They go on to say that in most cases, the scammers have got in touch with the victims first through online dating sites and social media pages, and never identified themselves with a name.
How to avoid online dating scams
You have to protect yourself online at all costs, and the best way to do that is to find an app or a site which has the best privacy policies and a customer support in place that is responsive. What happens then is that if there is a scammer lurking around or in contact with you, youre covered. There are many more ways to protect yourself. Here are some-
- If he or she says in the first week that they are in love with you- it’s a red flag. You may have felt that way before, but let’s get real, it’s a red flag.
- Whirlwind romances happen, but scammers use that to rope in their victims and take things from them. They want things to happen fast, and they don’t have time to sit back- they wont let you think about anything happening now. So pump the brakes and save yourself effort and time.
- Scammers will ask you to leave the dating site and personally text or whatsapp them. Don’t do that! They know very well that dating apps and sites- the legit ones, do not allow anyone to share banking information and other transactions online. So the scammers want you to leave the site and go private with them, to get you in the rut.
- If he or she (scammer) is always looking for sympathy and attention, beware! They would say someone in the family is ill and they need money for their treatment- another red flag to be wary off. If they ask you for money, its time to block them and close the deal. Period!
- Even if you are well-to-do, do not let your financial status out early on online in the relationship. Don’t even reveal where you live, until you are very sure of the person youre chatting with. And do not part with your banking or credit card information.
So you’ve been scammed! Now what!
- Shut off communication in its entirety online with the person
- Take time to check on your finances and secure it. Call your bank if need be and ask them for new cards or banking tools.
- Report the scammer and the scam to the webmasters of the dating app or the site, so that action can be taken against them.
- Report to the police and the government investigation team if possible
- Don’t make the same mistake again!
We hope this article was helpful to you as much as it was worth our while to research and get you this information. Dating is fun, but you need to be wary of tricksters online. Stay safe and happy dating!