While Online Dating sites have transformed the way that we meet our future partners, there are some associated pitfalls and the seemingly endless stream of scammers ready to try to take your money is undoubtedly one of the biggest.
That said, many scammers are easy to spot as long as we know what to look out for. So starting with the most ludicrously obvious first, here is our guide to identifying an online dating scam.
- Lagos Calling
This should be obvious by now, but if someone from Africa has the sum of $15,000,000 FIFTEEN MILLION US DOLLARS hidden in a secret account bequeathed to them by a deceased ex-president, they are not going to ask a random person that they found on a dating site to help them move it!
- Contact me on my private email
Scammers often try to lure potential victims into direct email correspondence. This is because dating sites usually ban them once they have received a few complaints. However once a conman has the victim’s email address, the conman is free to pursue their mark. Always insist on using the Dating Site to communicate for the initial stages of correspondence.
- Hello Dear, Am Williams Peters from the United State.
African scammers often have a less than perfect command of English and/or often display some rather strange colloquialisms. Be suspicious if you receive a message with some rather strange-sounding English.
- I am trapped/kidnapped
As we all know, kidnappers leave their victims locked in rooms with a computer that is connected to the internet. Really?
- I am a US Soldier currently in Afghanistan/Iraq
Apologies to any servicemen/women that are genuinely currently posted overseas and are attempting to use an online dating site, but the US Army receives hundreds of complaints every month related to these scams.
- I am an Engineer currently in Africa
And soon you will end up stuck in Nigeria and need money for a plane ticket/computer/whatever.
- Hello, I love you.
They fell in love with you the moment they read your profile and saw your picture (even if you don’t have a picture in your profile). Yes, you and the other 60 people that they copied and pasted the same message to.
- Stunningly Beautiful/Handsome
If someone’s profile picture looks like an photo-shopped celebrity glamour shot, then it probably is, stolen from some website.
- I would like to offer you employment
Did you not understand that this was a dating site when you signed-up? Hello?
- My sister is very sick
In this scenario, the scammer or one of their relatives will fall ill or have a serious accident. They may not ask for money directly, but the victim will insist on helping in their hour of need.
- Call now
That telephone number may well be a premium rate line and your next phone bill will be a shocker.
Hopefully the above list will help you identify at least the most obvious scams. To avoid the others, exercise a healthy amount of suspicion and obey the #1 rule: Never send any money to anyone that you have not met in person!