Over the past couple of decades, online dating has grown in popularity to become the widely-accepted norm. Many of today’s marriages blossom from relationships that started online. This shift in society’s way of meeting people leads us to be less cautious about meeting strangers online. This newfound comfort in talking to strangers leaves room for professional scammers and social engineers to make their way into your life, and eventually your bank account.
“I would never fall for that”, says everyone.
Many assume the individuals falling for these plots are vulnerable and lonely people who are unable to find a date offline. The truth is that doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and people of all ages from all walks of life have fallen for such scams. Considering the detailed personas these criminals build for their victims, anyone could fall for online dating scams.
How it happens
Dating and romance fraud often happens through popular dating sites, but these scammers use social media as well. They make fake profiles with fictional names, pictures, and professions. These con artists often claim to be from a location near you, but say they’re currently working in other countries, so conveniently, they can’t meet you in person. These professional manipulators go to great lengths to gain your trust and your interest, often using details from your social media accounts to their advantage. They shower you with loving words, intimate conversations, and sometimes even gifts.
Over time, once they’ve gained your trust, they will ask you for money, gifts, or bank account details. Often, they play up some sort of personal emergency, or claim they want to visit you but lack the funds to do so–and once you’re emotionally invested, these stories seem believable.
The warning signs
Here’s a few warning signs to look out for when looking for love online:
- They often develop strong feelings shortly after introduction or after only speaking a few times.
- They quickly ask you to move the communication from the dating application or site to personal means of communication, such as texts or calls.
- Their messages are poorly written or vague
- Their dating site or social media profile isn’t consistent with what they tell you over conversations.
Unfortunately, when meeting potential love interests online, you should always assume the possibility of dating scams. Be very cautious about sharing pictures or your personal information with strangers.
Finally, never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. Emotional investment can cloud your judgement, remember to follow your head, and not your heart when it comes to online dating.