Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, a time that brings an upsurge in the use of online dating sites. With this comes a proportional increase in fraudulent activity. According to the New Your Times, more than $200 million dollars was lost by victims of online romance scams in 2016. That number continues to grow as more people turn to online dating sites in search of a companion. VentureBeat reports that 10% of profiles posted to online dating site are scams.
To lure victims in, scammers prey on our emotions, our need for connection with others. Con artists will use this need to quickly develop a rapport with the victim in order to spring their trap. While most online dating sites offer some security measures, it falls to consumers to protect themselves against would-be scammers. The best way to protect yourself is to know how to spot an online dating scam. So what are the tell-tale signs?
- The subject in the profile picture looks like a model. Scammers will often steal photos from other profiles or websites to legitimize theirs. Be skeptical, do a reverse image search to determine the photo’s true origin.
- The person claims to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can’t meet with you personally. This is a typical ploy to keep a victim engaged in the scam.
- Your romantic interest wants to move the conversation off the dating site’s messaging service – always a red flag!
- The person asks for money or bank account information. This is a sure sign that you are being scammed. Never send or wire money to anyone who claims an emergency like a daughter’s operation, a son’s traffic accident, a mother’s terminal illness, etc. There are all common fraud tactics.
Be cautious about how much information you give out to a potential amour on any dating site. Don’t provide information that would reveal your exact location. Ask specific questions about their background. Look up their name online to make sure there are no other reports of scams by a person using that name. For your safety, always communicate through the dating site’s messaging system.