Online dating gives us access to unprecedented numbers of potential matches. From the busiest mums or career women, to men who work FIFO, we now have the ability to meet our match at any time of the day or night.
But the new era we’ve ushered in isn’t all good news. Online, scammers are prolific, costing Australians alone in excess of $27 billion dollars each year. Even in 2016, the ACCC reports online dating scams are still the most successful type of scam – period. Rather than physical threats, these scams and scammers serve as very real dangers to both your identity and your finances. Any woman who has been burned, either financially or personally, will tell you – the damage they do can be irreparable.
Here are 7 signs of a scammer online, which should set off alarm bells in your head to stay away.
He (they) try immediately to get you chatting off the website.
This should be your biggest clue. If a guy (as soon as you begin chatting) tries to get your personal email or details, so he can message you outside of the website – be warned. This is classic scammer behavior. Like a busy nightclub that is full of cameras and security, online dating websites have systems, on several levels, installed to protect you. Scammers know this. They will try to get you out of there as soon as possible, so they can work their magic outside. It’s the equivalent of a stranger in a nightclub meeting you and instantly wanting you to come outside of the venue with him. You wouldn’t do it in real life, so don’t do it online.
They send you ‘template’ style messages.
We’ve all had those generic messages, where we get the sense the person didn’t actually read our profile. If you’re receiving these, you’re either being scammed, or the guy is really lazy. Either way, not someone you want to be dealing with. Watch for messages or replies to messages that don’t seem to make sense, relative to what you said, or that look like they could have been sent to anyone.
He’s ridiculously romantic, ridiculously early.
Scammers have to make things emotional, because their tricks don’t work on anyone thinking logically.
They’ll ramp up the romance talk early, coming out with, “Just looking for my incredible love partner to hold and cherish” or “I sense you are the type of woman who’s really serious about this. I’m already feeling strongly for you and that we could build something incredible together for the future.”
Offline, when he’s dated you for 6 months, this is cute. Online, when you’ve known him 6 days, this is scamming (or desperation). To be avoided in either case.
You get the sense their English is poor.
If they’re presenting themselves as a white Caucasian westerner, and then their English and grammar is off, it has to make you ask questions. Does he say, “I’d love to travel in overseas soon” or “I love listening music”? Subtle discrepancies, such as these, tell you English isn’t their strong point, a very real sign of a scammer.
Of course, if they are of another race and are openly ESL (English Second Language), this makes sense. It’s not ‘technically’ the poor English that’s the problem. It’s the story behind it not adding up.
He’s flaky and dodges meet-ups.
Scammers are typically overseas or outside of your area, so there’s no way they’ll ever be able to meet up with you. They may allude to it; they may even book it in, but something will always come up that means they can’t make it. If he’s evasive about making plans, or continually makes them, only to bail out last minute, be wary. You may very well have a scammer on your hands.
They ask – at any point – for money.
This – above all – should give you all the information you need to know; they’re there for the wrong reasons. Most of us intuitively know not to give money to a stranger online, yet, the way scammers phrase their requests still brings them success.
They don’t typically ask for money outright… any of us would clue in to that. They build rapport with you first, then, out of the blue, declare that some sort of emergency has occurred, and they need cash. They seem sweet, their story tugs on your heartstrings, and the pattern begins. An example might be:
“I’m so sorry. I hate asking this, but I feel comfortable enough with you now to do so. You feel comfortable with me, right??” (get you saying “yes”)
Then comes the sob-story
“My daughter’s birthday is this Sunday, and I don’t get paid until Monday. I really want to do something nice for her after her Mother left. Is there any chance I could borrow $50, just so I can get her a cake/decorations, etc.…? You have my sincerest word that it will all be paid back Monday.”
No matter how emotional, no matter how heartbreaking their story seems, never give money to someone you’re chatting to online.
Your instincts tell you something is off.
The number 1 thing you can do to protect yourself is trust your instincts. Does something about him, just not quite add up? Is he just a bit too good to be true? Something else you can’t quite put your finger on? If you’re getting these strange feelings about a guy online, trust them. There are so many men and great potentials out there; it doesn’t make sense to push on with a guy that – for whatever reason – gives you the heebie-jeebies.
Online dating is the most powerful tool you have to increase the number of men you can see and date in your life. It’s something I recommend to all women, who are serious about looking for love. Still, it needs to be respected for what it is. Minor precautions need to be taken, so you can get the most out of this amazing tool, without falling victim to its drawbacks. The nature of online dating means scammers can hide computer screens, and if you’re unaware of how to counter them, you could be their next victim. So, keep your wits about it and follow the guidelines here. You’ll steer clear of Mr. Scammer and have fun embracing your search for Mr. Right.