Online dating is not a new phenomenon; however, scammers have found ways to exploit it for various purposes, such as stealing victims’ money and data. Let’s explore the red flags associated with online dating scams and how to identify potential scammers.
Online dating is more popular than ever. It’s a great way to meet people, and potentially find the love of your life. Try this one and potentially find the love of your life. Despite what alarmists say it’s also a relatively low-risk activity. Chances are, the worst experience you’ll have is meeting somebody who is a crashing bore.
But, low risk is not no risk. Unfortunately, there are people who target online dating sites to rip people off. This doesn’t mean you need to delete it. That doesn’t mean you should turn off your computer entirely. Instead, protect yourself by learning these cybercrime red flags for online dating.
They Request But Don’t Reciprocate Intimacy
You’ve met someone online, and things are progressing. Your conversations often turn sensual. It’s clear you are both deeply attracted to one another. Eventually, they ask you to turn on your webcam. Of course, you ask them to reciprocate, but they always have a viable excuse not to. Their camera is broken, or they are just too shy.
If you fall for this scam, you may appear on camera in various stages of undress. You might even engage in some intimate acts and talk as they encourage you. Then, the flattery stops. This is when the scam is revealed. They have been recording the whole time, and demand payment. If you refuse, they will distribute your images online, usually to people in your life. You comply, only to find that the demands for payment don’t stop.
They Really Want You to Check Their Website or Socials
It isn’t all that unusual for someone you’ve met on an online dating site to invite you to friend them on social media or take a look at their website. That’s part of the natural progression of dating people online. If they do that right from the start and are pushy about it, that is a red flag.
In this scam, you are sent a link that looks legitimate. You click it and are redirected to a site that contains malware or bombards you with annoying spam. Sometimes, you will be sent to a social media account. However, it is often a fake page or scam. This is often to garner likes and follows. Sometimes, you’ll be used as a mark to sell phoney products or solicit money.
He’s in The Military But Things Just Don’t Add Up
You start communicating with someone you meet online. They tell you that they are in the military. As they talk about their life and service, they often include some of the following details:
- At or near retirement
- No kids or grown kids
- Widowed or never married
- Transferring to your area soon
- Getting ready to start a lucrative civilian career
- Looking to marry and have you relocate to their duty station
There may certainly be single military members who fit these descriptions. But, in this case, you will notice a lack of consistency and accuracy. Their rank may change, for example, or they will mention being stationed at a base that doesn’t align with their branch of the military.
Eventually, they will begin making requests for money. At the same time, the promises to you continue. Sure, they need money right now to cover a medical bill or catch up with a cash shortage. But, as soon as they retire or get settled in after their transfer, they will repay you and send for you to come visit them. This will go on until you refuse to send any more money. Then, your military lover will vaporize from your life.
You’re Offered Intimate Pictures in Exchange For Info
This is a simple scam that preys on the loneliness and excitement of the victim. Here, you will be contacted or friended by an exceptionally attractive person. In most cases, they will chat you up, and then share a couple of mildly erotic photos. Then, you’ll be told you can see much more. All you have to do is send some information.
Then, you’ll be asked for personally identifying information like your name, email address, birth date, etc. You may even be asked to share a debit card number. Of course, you will be reassured that this is just for age verification. The person sending the photos may even point out that they are afraid that you will use the photos for blackmail.
Once they have your information, there is a very good chance that you won’t get those photos. Even if you do, it won’t be worth having your identity stolen or your information sold on the dark web.
- Do A Public Records Search: Conducting a public records search can be a valuable step in identifying a potential dating scammer. By searching for publicly available information about the person you’re communicating with, you can verify their claimed identity and background. This can include checking for criminal records, marriage/divorce records, or any history of fraudulent activities. If the person refuses to share basic information or their details don’t match what you find in public records, it could be a red flag.
- Perform a Background Check: Going beyond public records, performing a comprehensive background check can provide deeper insights into the individual’s history. Look for professional websites that offer background check services, and consider using them to verify their employment, education, and any potential aliases. Be wary if the person’s background seems inconsistent, contains unexplained gaps, or raises concerns about their credibility.
- Use Social Media: Social media platforms are powerful tools for uncovering information about someone. Search for the person’s profiles on various social media platforms to get a sense of their online presence and activity. Be cautious if their profiles seem suspiciously new, lack friends or connections, or display inconsistent information. Also, watch out for overly flattering or unrealistic photos that may indicate a fake online persona.
- A Simple Google Image Search: Conducting a Google Image search using the person’s profile picture can reveal if they have stolen images from the internet to create a false identity. If the same photo appears on multiple unrelated profiles or websites, it’s a clear sign of deception. Scammers often use attractive or stolen photos to lure unsuspecting victims, so this simple search can help you spot a potential catfish.
Common Sense and Knowledge is Power
It’s smart to be on alert when you are meeting people online, particularly with the goal of finding romance. That doesn’t mean you have to approach this with a sense of fear and dread. Instead, use this information to empower yourself. Now that you know some of the more popular red flags in online dating, you can put the brakes on before you become a victim.
Nevertheless, remember that online dating scams are unfortunately common, and scammers can be very convincing. Always approach online relationships with caution, and if something feels off or too good to be true, take the time to verify the person’s identity and intentions using these methods. Trust your instincts and prioritize your safety when navigating the world of online dating.