Love is in the air, not online

By Dale Dixon/ BBB’s trust evangelist

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so love is in the air. I have a co-worker who recently set up an account on an online dating site. Now, my co-worker is being contacted by people from all around the world. This seems to me to be very unsafe. Do the online dating sites offer protection against scam artists?

Please share the following information from Better Business Bureau with anyone involved in an online dating site – or considering it. Scammers play to our emotions. By invoking fear, anxiety or hope, they convince us to fall for cons we wouldn’t rationally consider. Because there are few emotions stronger than falling in love, romance scams are particularly lucrative.

How the Scam Works:  

You sign up for an online dating site. You receive a message from someone (usually a man contacting a woman) who claims to be working abroad or serving in the military and stationed overseas.

After exchanging a message or two through the dating website, he requests that you communicate through email or a chat service. You agree and start exchanging emails and photos. You even become friends on Facebook.

The photos are real, but the profile isn’t. Scam artists steal photos and make up profile information.

Soon, you two are communicating daily. Your new love interest tells you that he wants to use his upcoming leave to visit you. There’s just one problem. He doesn’t have money for the trip. He asks if you will lend it to him, and you agree. But after you send the cash, you find that your new sweetheart has suddenly stopped communicating. (Or maybe he sticks around long enough to ask for another loan.)

Tips to Spot a Romance Scam:

Online dating is a great way to meet “the one.” Unfortunately, it’s also easy to encounter scammers. Be wary of anyone who:

  • Asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service. This allows fraudsters to carry out scams without the dating site having a record of the encounter.
  • Claims to be from this country but is currently traveling, living or working abroad. In addition to the military ploy described above, scammers also pretend to be temporarily working overseas or serving as missionaries.
  • Has a suspicious Facebook profile: Scammers often use the names and photos of real people to create fake Facebook profiles. Their profiles tend to have few friends and be rife with grammatical errors. Also check to see when they joined. Recent pages are another red flag.
  • Asks you for money or credit card information. In some cases the scammer will claim an emergency like a sick relative or stolen wallet, and will ask you to wire money. The first wire transfer is small but the requests keep coming and growing. Or he may ask for airfare to come for a visit.
  • Sends you emails containing questionable links to third-party websites. Third-party links can contain malware that’s designed to steal personal information off your computer.

Bottom line: Use reputable dating sites you’ve researched at bbb.org and never wire money to a newfound love.

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3 Comments

Filed under News You Can Trust

3 responses to “Love is in the air, not online

  1. Mark Burrows

    This has always been a hot topic. On line dating. Here is my conclusion. First, if you are approached on a site that is not a dating site, ignore it completely. Second, do not join up on any free dating sites. Third, do not join up on any dating site where men pay and women get free membership. Third, do not join any bargain dating sites.
    I can not tell you that there are no genuine dating sites, because there are, but they are and should be expensive for both sides. The reason is obvious, only people who are serious and the better sites have superior screening systems.
    Another thing, avoid long distance international dating. Yes I know, mates sound exotic and romantic, but long distant relationships really do not work out unless you are willing to risk going there immediately to check this prospect out, but of course take a companion along as someone to look over your shoulder, and give that shoulder a tap when they see something beyond your blindness of puppy love. Sounds expensive? Yes, that is my point.
    Better yet, get off your backside and join some outside social events, and apply a little charm and grace.
    Think of this. Would you find someone who sits behind a computer romanticising as a prospective mate? I sure wouldn’t.
    You know, the usual lines. I enjoy hiking, walking on the beach, camping, and outdoor activity. Sure, that explains why you are sitting there tapping away on your computer and/or device.
    Do you actually believe the movies where people go out for a five run mile in the morning and then sit down in front of a laptop and drink their power drink while eating a bagel? It’s fiction, not reality.
    Want to meet your soul mate? Then get out there and make eye contact.

    Mark Burrows

  2. As much as I had my experience of using dating sites online, I cant help but wonder why some people would fall for stupid tricks like these… Sending money to someone overseas whom you haven’t even met is just plain silly. I still believe that some dating sites are still very good for meeting real people, its just a matter of being careful of meeting a scam artist.

    • Mark Burrows

      Of course, it is like meeting anyone in person. You should have a set of standards that are first part of your moral being, and second your common sense. It is your inner radar system. Problem is, many people just do not build such standards or morals so, therefore, lack the common sense so there is no radar system to depend on.
      The key to any relationship is asking questions. If you get one word answers, or short brief replies that fail to satisfy the question asked, that is a red flag the other person is hiding something.
      The other side of the coin is that they become far too familiar and start telling you stories of a tragic life and the loss of loved ones. This is too much information too soon if you did not ask for it. It is a red flag telling you that the person is building up their need to establish a quick soul connection so they can start fleecing your savings account.
      Any descent conversation should have a rhythm and a flow to it. It should be easy going, with overtones of laughter and a little romantic banter, not too much, that shows desperation.
      To the men, smarten up. If you are being courted by younger women on sites who show these gorgeous photos that look like models, well they are models, they come from nude model sites and they are series start pictures before they remove their clothes. They get cut and cropped from free sample sites. Pay attention to how they write, they will claim that they are American, but their diction and sentence structure is not like any woman in North America. Punctuation and spelling can be forgiven to a point, as learned as I am, I am a lousy editor. Yet, repeating spelling errors is a sign that you are online with a foreign person maybe not even female, and possible a young male as young as 15 years of age. They want money for their cellphones. Working is out of the question when they can fleece you.
      To the women, men are easy to victimize. They actually fall instantly into love faster than any woman does, but they are not thinking with the rational part of their brain. It takes them a little while for that part to kick in and they start to behave themselves. It is important to keep your resolve and make the man work through his initial rosy eyed infatuation. Ask him about family, that usually brings them down to earth.
      It is also important to ask things that can be checked up on. While online, keep a few open windows on your browser ready to go. Ask your prospect what city they live in. When they tell you, look it up right away and garner a little information about important streets and landmarks, then ask a question that is slightly wrong as see if the person corrects you or not, if they do not try a couple of more. If this is a trend, then you know you are dealing with an untruthful person. They do not live in that city and likely has never been there.

      Mark Burrows

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