Last updated on June 16, 2013 | by Aet Suvari0
Online Dating Scams
A recent news article reported that online dating scams have cheated British people out of £37 billion. Such a staggering amount of money seems quite unbelievable and it beggars belief that there are indeed people out there who would take advantage of someone’s emotional vulnerability – yet it is true and I am sure we’ve all heard stories of someone falling victim to a scammer.
How does a fraudster like that operate? They don’t need to be overly clever or intelligent or even that good-looking. All they need is a vulnerable victim willing to believe all their sweet words. The scammer only needs to lead an online dater looking for love to believe that they might be the person that they have been searching for all along. Once they have built some trust, they will start taking advantage of it, swindling rather large sums of money out of them.
It seems such a banal way that it is hard to believe rationally that someone could fall victim to that. After all, we’ve all got our wits about us, right? Maybe not. Anyone of us has moments when he or she is weaker, when we can lose our wits, let our guard down. After all – love is one of those things in life that requires an enormous amount of trust put in someone else’s hands.
So how can we ensure we put it in the right hands? Should we start suspecting everyone out there on online dating sites? While we here in the online dating help office don’t think a full-on “trust-embargo” is necessary, we do encourage you all to be careful.
Some ways to protect yourself against an online scammer:
1) Tend to trust the paid sites over the free ones. Scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and they surely do not want to give out their real credit card details or even commit to monthly payments if all they are after, is someone else’s hard-earned cash. Same time, don’t let yourself to be lulled into a complete sense of security on a paid site either. It only takes one bad apple.
2) Trust but don’t be naive. Trust is a fantastic thing and we would never encourage you to hold back if you think you’ve found that special person. However, don’t let your guard down completely. If your newly found love – who you haven’t even met yet – starts suddenly asking for money or favours, it is time to get some assurances. Ask for his/her home phone number. Ask for an address. Ask to meet up in a public place for lunch or drinks. See how he or she reacts to that. If someone is really in dire need of help, they will usually be willing to prove to you that you can trust them. If all they can come up with are different excuses, it’s time to pull back.
3) Be especially careful with those daters that claim to live abroad – usually they have some “sad story” to tell. They are either our beloved soldiers in Iraq or victims of some kind of horrible injustice in an African country or stranded with no money and friends in Eastern Europe. Scammers like that have no decency – they will play on your sympathy and kind-heartedness and are only telling you all this so that you couldn’t check their stories. After all, you’re not going to call up an embassy of a foreign country, are you? Well, that’s one thing you might suggest to them if they come up with sob stories from faraway countries. You could even throw in a fib of your own, telling them you have a “friend” in the foreign office. See how they react to that. It usually speaks volumes.
4) Just use your common sense. Don’t give out any sensitive information or details about yourself. Someone you have never met should not have your home address or phone number. Someone you hardly know should also not have just one person in the whole wide world to turn to in an hour of need – you. If that is the case, it clearly shows you something is wrong. Where are all the other people he or she can trust: friends, family, colleagues?
As a conclusion, trust your heart but even more – trust your head when out there in the wild world of online dating. And if you need help or think you have fallen victim to a scammer, don’t hesitate to call the police.