Internet Dating Scams: How to Protect Your Heart And Wallet?
Last Updated : 17 Aug, 2023
76% of adults in India who have used a dating app have fallen victim to online dating scams (Sources: Norton).
With the meteoric rise of dating apps across the globe, there has been a high surge in online dating scams, leaving people with a lot more than just broken hearts. Today when high-speed internet and smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, you need to be more cautious. When dating online, you need to stay informed about various tactics used by online dating scammers to stay protected.
In this blog, we bring out how online dating scam works and explore how scammers trap victims.
How Do Online Romance Scams Work?
It all starts with the romance scammer posting an attractive profile on dating sites or social media platforms to target victims. The scammer then starts sending friend/dating requests to target victims online. These frauds are generally sweet talkers and they can manipulate innocent people easily.
Once the victim starts completely trusting these RomScammers, these frauds will somehow cook up a fake story to garner the sympathy of the target. More often than not, the scammer will ask for money. These malicious actors are extremely cunning and they know the right moment to influence their victims to extort money from them. And the moment they receive the money, they will simply vanish!
5 Types of Dating Scams:
In a romance scam or online dating scam, the scammer uses different tactics to trick the potential victim into a romantic relationship. Here are some common scams frequently reported in the newspapers or online.
In catfishing, a term borrowed from fishing, the scammer creates fictitious online personas to trap unsuspecting victims. These scammers use a wide range of tactics, ranging from using stolen photos to crafting elaborate backstories to manipulating victims and building trust for personal information or financial gains.
Phishing For Personal Information:
In phishing dating scams online, scammers try to enroll the victim into fake dating sites. These fake websites offer you to match with your ideal life partner. But in reality, they are mostly filled with bots and fake accounts, or worse, “malware”. Malware can scan your device for sensitive information or make your device completely defunct.
Intimate Activity Scams Or “Sextortion”:
Among the top online dating app scams, this one is probably the most difficult to handle. In these scams, the scammer connects with their target through multiple social media platforms. Once the victim starts trusting the scammer, they convince the victim to undress online or send intimate photos/videos to them. As the victim falls into the trap and obliges to the obnoxious demands, the scammer makes a recording of the whole thing, unbeknownst to the target. The agenda is to threaten the victim for money or other favours with the recordings. In most cases, these offenders target men aged 45 to 60 years – but there have been cases where women and underage minors have fallen victim to these scams as well.
Some scammers pretend to be living abroad and looking for love online. These scammers use the “abroad-living” situation or “NRI” tag to avoid meeting the victim in person. They hook the victim into a relationship, and once they have the complete faith of the victim, they start asking for money. Fraudsters even claim to be dealing with banking issues and promise to pay back. But any money the victim sends is never refunded back.
The gift scam is one of the most common online dating money scams happening in India. In this scam, the fraudster befriends a potential victim. A few days into the “relationship”, the fraudster sends supposedly expensive gifts to the victim. They receive a call from the customs office, explaining that to receive these gifts they have to pay a hefty fee. In this elaborate scheme, the scammer poses as a customs officer to collect the sum. Once the money is received, the scammer disables the account and goes completely offline.
Recognising the Warning Signs:
Scammers are everywhere, but how can you protect yourself? Here are some tell-tale signs for spotting a Romance Scammer from the lot.
Too Good to Be True?:
Beware of profiles that seem too perfect. Scammers running Whatsapp Scams Dating or similar frauds often create an idealised version of themselves that aligns with your desires. If a match appears simply flawless and their life story sounds like a fairy tale, think twice.
Moving too fast into the Relationship:
Be wary of individuals who rush the relationship forward. Scammers aim to establish a deep emotional connection quickly, using persuasive tactics to make you feel special. Their goal is to expedite your trust and move towards financial exploitation.
The Financial Appeal:
One of the telltale signs of online dating scammers is their eventual request for financial assistance. They may build elaborate stories of either a medical emergency or a sudden financial crisis to garner sympathy and eventually extort funds from their victims. Refrain from sharing confidential financial records with any new person you meet.
How to Stay Protected From Common Scams on Dating Sites?:
Here are some measures to follow to stay safe from these scams:
Maintain a healthy level of scepticism, even when emotions run high. Take the time to verify the authenticity of the person you are communicating with. Run a reverse image search on their profile pictures and search their name to check for inconsistencies.
Guard Personal Information:
Refrain from sharing sensitive information such as your home address, financial details, or workplace in the early stages of communication. Genuine individuals will respect your boundaries and prioritise building a connection based on trust and respect, unlike frauds running dating app scams.
Report Suspicious Activity:
If you suspect interacting with a scammer or getting involved in a dating site fraud, don’t hesitate to report them to the police and relevant authorities. Your vigilance can prevent others from falling victim to the same deceitful schemes.
The prospect of finding love online is always enticing and exhilarating, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Romance Scammers, online hookup scams, and online dating frauds can sour your internet dating experience.
But all hope is not lost. As you embark on your journey to find love online, keep your heart open but your instincts sharper. Exercise your caution and take a little bit of time to trust someone. True love will be right around the corner.