In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 ($455,300) through online dating sites.
He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over $50 million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate.
Many scammers will be prepared to answer these and even more complicated questions, but if you can’t get answers from a suitor, you should be suspicious.
While there are online dating scammers from all over the world, a significant number of them come from non-English-first-language countries, which means that sometimes there will be communicative markers that indicate your suitor isn’t who they say they are.
Here are six things to keep in mind to help you spot and avoid scammers on online dating sites.
Anyone can be the target and victim of these scams—men, women, young, old, gay, straight, white, black, Asian, Hispanic… But the FBI states that women who are “over 40, divorced, widowed, and/or disabled” are prime targets for scammers.Again, both men and women can and have fallen victim to online dating scammers, but women tend to be targeted more aggressively.Interestingly, the AARP says that men fall victim to these scams more often, but that women are more likely to report the scam.They might even set up a time to meet and then say they were held up by something else. Some scammers will use similar excuses for avoiding phone conversations, though many will talk to you on the phone before reeling you in for the scam. If the person you’re talking to is who they say they are, they almost certainly will not ask you for money or financial details. ” is not a question that a sincere person is likely to ask on a first date.Of course, some people are just shy or are nervous about meeting people that they’ve met online—this isn’t anything out of the ordinary (it’s also possible that they’re trying to avoid getting caught by a spouse The Ashley Madison dating site was recently hacked by hackers who threatened to leak the entire database unless the site closed. Asking for any other financial information—where you bank, anything about your credit cards, how much you have in savings—should be a big warning sign.The most common reasons that they give for needing money are not being able to afford a passport, visa, other travel documents, or plane tickets (often to come see you); an emergency stay in the hospital that requires a huge sum of money; getting robbed while traveling; or not being able to access their money from abroad.There’s a huge variety of reasons that you could get.If their profile says they’ve lived in Ohio their entire lives, but they’re using non-standard English, or have notably poor grammar, that could be a warning sign (think of the kinds of errors you’d see in a Nigerian scam email or on the phone, where they need to spontaneously come up with things to say. Obviously, there are plenty of non-native speakers out there who are sincerely looking for a relationship, and they could very well be from heritage speaking communities in the United State or Britain.This isn’t a dead giveaway, but it’s something to watch out for.They might also say that they live near you, but that they’re away; they could be in another country on a trip or for work, but they’ll almost certainly be somewhere far away where you can’t meet them.The photos used by scammers can also clue you in that something is off.