Are you being conned by an internet dating scammer? Read the behaviour patterns of online dating scammers to find out.
Almost every successful online dating scam follows a set pattern of behaviour.
Once scammers find something that works they will use it until people get wise to the scam and then move on to something new.
Unfortunately, as dating scams deal with our most basic instinct (the desire to love and be loved) this old trick is not running it’s course, it still works every day.
Here is the basic behavior pattern of an internet dating scammer, the psychology behind each step and the red flags to look for … learn to read the signs.
The Scammers Approach
They will send a short introductory message as soon as you or they join the site. They will often approach people 10 to 15 years older than they say they are.
They will very quickly (usually in the first one or two messages) want to move off the site and on to yahoo, msn or mobile texting.
If you agree to move off the dating site within 2 days they will remove their profile from that site and inform you they have done this because they know they have found the one they were looking for.
They will explain that English is not their first language so they are slow at typing (in actual fact they take so long to respond because they are also chatting to 4 other potential victims at the same time).
They want to get you off the dating site as quickly as possible .. ask yourself why?
Scammers Cover Story
This is just one cover story but it will give you an idea of how creative they are.
They will begin by telling you they are a business man or woman and are either currently doing contract work in an African country or they are in Europe at the moment but will be travelling to Africa on business soon.
They will usually say they are French, Belgian, Dutch, Italian or whatever because when you speak on the phone it can be difficult to tell what their accent is.
They will chat to you daily and within a week they will tell you they are in love with you, they have been waiting for you all their life, they have dreamed of meeting someone like you and they can’t wait for you to be together.
They are perfect for you, almost too good to be true. Everything they tell you sounds like they read your profile and messages then invented their entire persona just for you (there’s a hint in there).
They will quickly talk of visiting you with a view to moving your relationship to the physical level and will talk of marriage.
Too much, too soon, never met and nobody is that perfect for you. It’s one of the joys of relationships, we have to compromise and if someone is just “perfect” then you should smell a rat.
First Request For Money
This will usually come after 10 to 14 days of chatting daily and take one of four forms. The request will be in an amount from 1000 to 20000 UK pounds or US dollars (although sometimes much more), they will sound so embarrassed to have to ask you BUT:
- A medical emergency
- Victim of a crime.
- Visa money and flight money to come to be with you.
- A business deal is slipping through their fingers.
The medical emergency will take the form of needing to see a doctor because they are sick or must pay a hospital bill for either them or a close family member. They will say it’s only a loan, someone owes them money and as soon as they get it they will send it right back to you.
The crime will take the form of their wallet/passport/laptop/luggage has been stolen and they are stuck in Africa and need to get home (this may be coupled with the need to pay the hospital bill after the attack).
Of course they have to travel a few hundred miles to apply for the visa, then travel back for the interview and that’s expensive .. the fact that our embassies now accept initial online applications should warn you here. They also need flight money to come to see you, someone owes them money which they could use but they won’t get it back for a few weeks and they just can’t wait that long to be with you. As soon as they get their money back they will send you what they owe you. Others just say they can’t afford it and if you are to be together then can you pay for their flight.
A great deal came up and they have paid 200,000 plus for heavy machinery/gold/precious stones/etc but they are short 20,000. When they are back home they can sell it for more than double what they are paying for it. Their bank doesn’t have a branch over there so he/she can’t get the remaining money wired to them .. can you just help him/her out and they’ll split the profits with you when they get back and sell their purchases.
Please note that in any of these scenario’s if you say you can’t afford the amount they are asking for they will simply ask for less and try to get the remaining amount elsewhere … and yet they had to ask you, a total stranger, for the money.
Any money you send needs to be sent through Western Union.
1. A business person that travels frequently and goes to Africa without medical insurance .. pull the other one.
2. If they’re a victim of crime why haven’t they gone to their Embassy for help, that’s what they’re there for and they WILL help in such circumstances.
3. They are so desperate to meet you but never suggest you go to meet them when they get back to their home country, just send them money and they’ll come to you.
4. A business person that can’t get to a bank there but was allowed to wander through customs with 200,000 in cash, which they just happened to be carrying in case they fancied a bite to eat .. I don’t think so!!
5. If the words Western Union and internet dating crop up in the same sentence run a mile.
If you Don’t Send Money
If you sound even slightly hesitant about sending money or say you simply can’t afford to, they will suddenly go into fits of remorse for even asking you .. you will get a tyrade of what a dreadful person they are and they will never forgive themselves for asking .. blah blah blah.
Once they are sure you feel really guilty and sorry for them, usually coupled with you saying you really want to help them but … they will start to ask for money again. Maybe you could just lend them a small part of what they need? Do you have a car you could sell?
In order to build trust and reassure you that you are not being scammed they will email you documentation to prove they are telling the truth and how much they need.
This may take the form of:
- A hospital bill and letter from a doctor explaining they can’t release his/her passport until the bill is paid.
- A police report detailing the crime and the value of what was stolen.
- A letter from a travel agent explaining the flight has been booked and they await x number of pounds/dollars to pay for the flight or even a copy of the flight booking confirmation.
- A receipt from the business they are buying from detailing their purchase and the amount outstanding. This will often state that if the outstanding amount is not paid he/she will lose the money already paid.
All of these documents are written in English, even the police report .. how convenient, that means you can read them.
I could produce any of these documents in about 10 minutes with my laptop and photoshop.
You can book a flight online and print off the booking confirmation straight away, then cancel the booking. This is such an effective tool though psychologically because you “see” the flight they are coming on, so it can’t be a con … can it?
It’s all proof of nothing other than their ability to use a computer.
Second Request for Money
If you send any money for a flight it will quickly be followed by a second request.
The most popular of these is the Basic Travel Allowance (BTA).
This is where the psychology of the scam gets you in two ways.
Firstly it gets you emotionally, you desperately want to meet this perfect love of your life or you wouldn’t have sent the flight money (usually 2-3000). They sound so utterly disappointed when they tell you they went to get their visa and the embassy/government/travel agent explained they need BTA money in cash, 800-1000 pounds or dollars, which has to be shown at the departure desk.
Secondly you may begin to smell a rat but you’ve already sent a lot of money, so your brain will be desperately trying to convince you that you haven’t just been scammed (even though in your heart you know you have).
You may decide to cut your losses and break contact but many victims of scams try to give them the benefit of the doubt in the hopes of this person really being the love they are looking for and in the hope they haven’t just become the latest victim of a dating scammer.
There is no such thing as BTA. Before sending any money for visa/passport/travel requirements check the internet, look at your embassy website and establish what is actually needed and what is just an attempt to part you from your hard earned cash.
I know this all makes it sound very “any idiot could work it out” and in the cold light of day they could but these people are very good at what they do and are very convincing.
Please learn the behaviour patterns of online dating scammers so you don’t become a victim.