Dozens of dating apps and dating sites are currently available for widespread use. You can find an online match in almost any part of the world, no matter how small or remote your town may be. With the increase of romantic opportunities due to online dating, came a new class of scammers – the romantic tricksters.
Online dating scams got so varied over the past few years, that if we were to tell the stories we could create a whole new blog section to call “EastLovesWest scams” and never run out of cases from all around the web. But despite their diversity, all of these stories have a range of perfectly similar elements. Let’s list them here so you can make a check list if you ever find yourself suspecting the hot guy you’ve been chatting with to be a scammer.
The first step is creating the bait. Scammers are following just one type of character actually. They claim to be men past their prime, though still handsome, who have lost their partners in a rather tragic way, most often posing as widowers. Another essential feature of their online persona is their occupation.
It’s vital that online dating scammers find a good excuse not to meet in person with their victims. How can they do that? By claiming their work doesn’t allow them to have live-in partners. The most popular professions dating scammers pretend to have are in the military (e.g. deployed in Afghanistan) or working on an oil rig at sea.
The second step consists of scammers creating a connection with their victims. That’s mainly through a lot of courting and flattery. Expect to be bathed in compliments, poems, declarations of love, anything that will get you to feel special and become infatuated. Basically, if it looks a little too good to be true and your online crush seems head over heels for you, better look more carefully for other red flags.
A further such red flag is when the scammer will ask you to help with a little money. This is usually needed to serve a thrilling purpose, such as them coming to visit you, a plane ticket, visa expenses, anything in that vein.
Once you do send the money, a crisis will occur on their side. Maybe they will invoke a medical emergency, or a paperwork hassle that will cause them employment or legal issue. This will overthrow not only your initial plans to finally meet in person and spend time together, but also the possibility of doing so anytime soon. Fearing that she will lose her lover for good, the victim will send money to alleviate the sudden crisis. The scammer will continue to ask for money again and again, and will increasingly pressure the victim into sending them more either until she runs out of money completely or realizes that she’s been scammed.
By now, I know what you must be thinking – that one must be truly naïve or dumb to fall for all the flattery, and even send money to a stranger, practically. But before you dismiss it, know that only in Britain there are over 200 000 victims of online dating scams, based on an estimate from the University of Westminster. For more info read this fantastic piece about one particularly dramatic story of a woman who fell hard for a scammer’s trap. This particular case, and the data that backs it up will help you understand that it isn’t in fact very unlikely to get carried away by the promise of a beautiful love story.
So far as you remember to never send money to people whom you’ve met via online communities, online dating remains a safe haven for romance. Don’t shy away to speak with new people, and even open your heart to some, because at the bottom of things, there are few things more rewarding than the companionship and love that people share.