Unfortunately, while most people looking to claim your heart and fall in love are legitimate and trustworthy, there are a few bad apples operating in the online dating industry.
Fortunately there are usually plenty of warning signs so you can spot them from a distance. Here are some basic tips to avoid the most common online dating scams.
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Beware of the long-distance romance
When you start chatting to someone who purports to live a long way away (especially in another country), there’s a small chance they could be targeting you for money or other personal data. These people rarely target those near them as it increases their chances of getting caught.
Realistically, anyone looking for lasting love is likely to be looking closer to home, so only talk to those who are within a reasonable distance of you, and meet up as soon as you can to ensure they are who they say they are.
Only use paid online dating sites
Paying for your online dating membership usually means the site in question has a user’s credit card details at hand, should something be deemed suspicious. Never assume everyone you talk to is legitimate – as some bad apples could slip through the cracks – but using paid online dating sites offers a level of protection that others do not.
Some online dating sites, such as Saga Dating, allow you to create your profile and start receiving messages before asking for payment. This allows you to trial the service before deciding whether or not it is worth paying the fee.
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Never reveal your personal data online
A scammer will manipulate your emotions until you trust them or fall for them enough to share personal details of your life. It might not be long until they’re asking for money, or for you to help out their family and friends somehow.
Be very cautious of someone who asks for these favours without ever having met you face to face.
Pay attention to the language used
While spelling and grammar aren’t everyone’s specialty – and you might even be talking to someone for whom English is a second language – if you notice communication is continuously bad, difficult, or that emails change in tone or language and style, you should probably take a closer look.
West Africa and the former Soviet Republics are home to many scammers trying to con you out of money. There have also been incidents with people claiming to be in the armed forces who will ask for money to come and visit you. Be careful.
Don’t be afraid to use search engines for research
If you suspect something might not be quite right about the person you’re talking to, there’s nothing wrong with checking them out on other online resources. Some scammers like to copy and paste the same email to see who takes the bait.
Pasting what you think reads suspiciously like a generic email might well pull up some surprising results. The site TinEye will show you where else on the internet someone’s photo has been posted.
For more advice about online dating safety and security, check out our Date safe tips.
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