When love hurts: common online dating scams
Online dating websites are on the rise, but not everyone who joins them has amorous intentions. Scams are rife, and they take an emotional and financial toll.
The most common scams are when the criminal contacts the victim via a dating site, email or social media and pretends to share a connection. Other scammers create a fake profile and make it look appealing in the hops that someone will contact them.
Once the scammer has a victim hooked, here are some of the heart-breaking ways criminals can con:
The webcam scam
In this instance, a victim is contacted by a potential suitor who lives far away. After a period of courtship, the scammer asks the victim if they’d like to ‘chat’ via webcam. Mysteriously, the fraudster’s webcam is ‘broken’, but they manage to convince the victim to undress or perform intimate acts.
Meanwhile, the scammer is making a recording of this activity, which they then use to blackmail the victim into sending money to avoid exposure.
A scammer uses the likeness and name of an actual soldier to create a fake profile. They use this platform to send out messages that are riddled with military jargon and sound legitimate. They start building an emotional connection with the victim, before they are ‘deployed’. They then ask for money to pay for flights home/ set up an Internet connection etc.
Even on legitimate dating sites, be on the lookout for the following:
- Suspicious grammar and spelling (especially if someone is claiming to be a native English speaker)
- Prose and profiles that seem to be too well-written – it may have been lifted from other websites or profiles. Do a Google search to check for any duplication
- Spammy links on a profile that are selling ‘get rich quick’ schemes or trying to sell a product
- Be wary of intimacy too quickly – scammers often try to gain the trust of their victims by offering very personal information and giving effusive compliments
- If someone asks for money (even a small amount) do not give it to them.
Love is blind, but don’t let the search for it make you vulnerable – always err on the side of caution and look out for these scammy signals.