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Online dating scams leave thousands with empty pockets and broken hearts each year. These apps are for finding the love of our lives or building genuine friendships. But unfortunately, romance scammers also use the apps to create fake profiles and build romantic relationships to extort money from us.
This type of scam is most often targeted toward older people, and most do not realize they are victims until they are too late. However, there are clear signs on how to identify a scammer online that could help you protect yourself.
In this article, we will discuss the most common online dating scams you might encounter and ways you could protect yourself and your close ones.
1. What are the different types of online dating scams you must avoid?
Nowadays, dating online is the new normal for people looking for partners or long-term relationships. However, with the increasing cases of online dating scams, we need to know about the most common types:
1.1. Military romance scams
Scammers may use soldiers’ names and likenesses or make an entirely fake profile in military romance scams.
They build a connection with the victims by sending authentic-seeming chats, representing them as close to finishing their careers, as a widow in difficult situations, or having older kids. The messages have a lot of military jargon and titles to make the entire thing impressive and genuine.
After that, they start to send requests for money for travel expenses, medical coverage, food, housing, retirement, and other things. This type of dating scam can run for months or years before you identify it.
Military romance scams are common in the US, where American soldiers have even come with a detailed sheet to determine the scammers instantly. For further information, you can check here.
1.2. Intimate activity scams
In this case, scammers initially build trust with the victim and ask them to chat via webcam. Despite the fraudster’s mysterious webcam malfunction, they manage to convince the victim to perform intimate acts or send private photos.
Then, the fraudster exposes their identity. And threaten the victim of sharing and posting intimate videos on social media platforms if they refuse to send money.
1.3. Fake dating websites
Most fake online dating websites promise to offer legitimate meetups and other exclusive perks. They will ask you to register on their sites to hack your personal information.
That will include finances or baking details, or ask for some basic questions like your favorite book or your pet name (obviously for security reasons). In short, most questions will be about your personal information and less about dating details.
Some sites often seem authentic to you initially. But will show their true color once you go for their premium membership or other free offerings where you have to complete a survey. Of course, that comes with questions about your banking or personal details.
Regardless of what incentives you are offered, keeping information private from others that can potentially be used for financial or private gain is recommended.
1.4. Malware scams
It is a very common type of internet scam that often involves online dating sites. For instance, you may find a good match on a dating app, and they provide you with more information on their fake web pages and Facebook or Instagram profiles.
These pages are not authentic. The scammers want you to visit their fake websites, which consist of malware and spam. That allows them to steal your personal information and other financial details. If any online dating app directs you to other websites, consider it a red flag.
2. What are the tips to spot an online scammer on dating apps?
- Fake Profile: Fraudsters always use fake profiles and never come with their original pictures. They impress victims by using fake images or attractive photos of other individuals.
- Love bombing: After a few chats, a scammer will try to establish a relationship as soon as possible. They will apply the love-bombing technique to victims to make them feel serious about this relationship. They even ask you to message them on WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Telegram.
- Ask for help: After building trust, scammers can ask you for help. For example, they may create a fake story about their poor financial status to support them in their crisis. They can even insist you invest money in crypto and send them money or gifts.
- Never meet in person: Scammers often promise fake marriages or meet you in person. But they always come with demands to fulfill first and then use excuses not to meet you personally.
Using dating websites or apps isn’t necessarily a sign of being a scammer, so there is no reason to avoid it completely. If you are well aware of how to use an online dating app and how much personal information you should provide—you are good to go with the dating app.