If you are going to use the internet for online dating then it is vital you learn to recognise the signs of an online dating scam.
Signals of dating scams are quite easy to ignore if you are earnestly looking for someone to love you.
I say ‘to love you’ and not ‘find someone you can love’ because it is our emotional needs that these people prey on.
Before we look at specific dating scams you need to know the basics …
What is an online dating scammer?
There are two types of predators using online dating sites, players and scammers.
Players are looking for notches on their bedpost and this post will tell you how to spot and online dating player.
While both are playing on your emotional vulnerability, a scammer is a person who contacts you on an online dating site with the intention of making money from you, either for personal gain or for their employer.
Scammers are simply actors who play a role online to entice you to part with your money. They often have scripts and receive a percentage of the ‘profits’ they con out of you.
What is an online dating scam?
Dating scams come in many different forms but all share the same intention, to get you to pay.
The amounts of money involved vary, usually starting off with small requests for money so they can top up their mobile phone to call you (remember that 10 pounds sterling can equal a weeks pay in a poor country) but can lead to thousands of pounds once they have you hooked.
Consumer Direct (the UK Governments consumer protection website) defines a scammer as:
“An online dating scam is when a scammer, male or female, creates a false personal profile and makes contact with you via an online dating agency or even a specialised chat room. The scammer says that they are seeking romance or a soul mate but are really out to steal not only your heart but your cash too.”
This isn’t just the Nigerian ‘send a money order’ scam we are all hopefully familiar with now.
Other forms of scams involve getting you to visit premium rate websites or call premium rate telephone numbers.
There is also the ‘I want to meet you but need flight money, insurance, cash, visa’ or whatever but of course on the day of travel their second cousin twice removed suddenly has a sick gerbil so they can’t travel. Of course they can’t possibly get a refund but if you send more money they will travel next month.
Over the next few posts we will look at some very specific scams, how to spot a dating scammer, the dating scammers toolbox and how to avoid scammers on online dating sites.
Where do scammers hang out?
Scammers are more often than not found on free dating websites, they are in this game to make money not spend it.
Those that do pay to join dating sites will join the largest international sites, as this offers a greater number of potential victims but no site is totally safe from scammers.
They will also join forums and chat rooms specifically for lonely hearts or dating.
People often mistakenly believe that scammers are male Africans but a quick look at the US Embassy website in Russia has an excellent question and answer section about internet dating scams which tells a very different story.
Victims of dating scams are stupid
If this is your opinion then think again. Surveys of victims of dating scams have shown that most are well educated, hard working singles and dare I say very ‘normal’ people.
One of the reasons these people get away with online dating scams is because their victims all believe they are not the type of person who could fall for a scammer, often believing they can spot a scammer a mile away.
We tend to hear more about women being scammed than men because men are less likely to come forward and admit they were scammed, however both men and women are regularly scammed online.
It is so important for all online daters to be educated and aware of online dating scams, which we will look at more closely in future posts. Remember to follow our 5 golden rules for online dating safety but for now we have answered the question of what is an online dating scam.