Dating is no longer limited to being in person. Pew Research Center states three in 10 U.S. adults have used a dating site or app. Unfortunately, not everyone is looking for love. For scammers, they are only in love with your money. Here’s how to swipe left on the scammers and keep from being heartbroken.
The Fake First Date
Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps or contact you through popular social media sites like Instagram or Facebook. They strike up a relationship with you to build up trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. They may say they love you early in the relationship. And just when you think this is the start of something new, the red flags come up.
Relationship Red Flags
Scammers are social chameleons. They change their story to play on your emotions. Here are some of their red flags.
An emotional long-distance relationship. An international location is a common reason a new fling is unable to go on a virtual date. They might say they are unable to talk on the phone or show their face because they’re in the military, on an oil rig or working with an international organization. Pay attention to their background and be on the lookout for any inconsistencies in their story.
They need money. Once the relationship is established, the requests for money start. Perhaps it’s for a medical emergency or for travel expenses to come see you, except they bail at the last minute. Whatever the excuse is, you should never send money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in person.
And it can only be sent a certain way. All scammers, not just romance scammers, want you to send money fast in a hard-to-trace format. Anyone who asks you to share account numbers, send gift cards or wire transfers, or pay with payment apps or cryptocurrency is not worth your time and attention.
Avoiding Being Heartbroken
Scammers play on people’s emotions to make their connection more magical than it is. Here are some signs to make sure your fairytale lives up to reality.
Be careful of what you post online. The more you share, the more dating site scammers know about you. If you happen to have everything in common, it may be a scammer telling you what you want to hear.
Check for catfishing. Do some research on your cyber crush by checking out their social media profiles. If their profile is blank or they have no friends, it may be a sign the person isn’t who they say they are. You can also conduct a reverse image search to see if their photos are on other sites.
Do not send compromising photos. Never send revealing pictures or videos to someone, especially someone you haven’t met. These could be used as blackmail later to extort you out of more money.
Break up and Report
If you think someone is a scammer, cut off contact and never get back together with them. Then, report the incident to the dating or social media site where the scam started. Additionally, you can report it to the FTC.