Every day, millions of people use online dating sites in hopes of finding their true love. Unfortunately, many of these people fall victim to online dating scams. These scams range from someone asking for financial assistance to more dangerous crimes like sextortion and blackmailing. It’s imperative to be aware of the dangers the internet can bring forth to protect yourself from online dating scams.
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Understanding Online Dating Scams
An online dating scam is when a scammer poses as a potential love interest on an online dating site to take advantage of someone for money or other personal gains. The scammer may use false information or photos in their profile to lure people in or create stories about themselves to make them seem more appealing. They will also quickly offer compliments or express strong feelings for the person they’re talking to build trust.
Once trust is formed, they will start asking their victims for money. You might think that would cause alarm to victims; however, victims are under the impression they are in a relationship with this person, so it is okay to send money here and there to help them when they are in need.
When the victim tells their perpetrator they cannot financially support them anymore, their true colors show, and that is when the harassment starts, and crimes such as online blackmail and internet sextortion can be introduced.
Many cases of blackmail and sextortion stem from online dating scams. If these cybercriminals are not given what they want from their victims, they quickly drop the romantic act and use any sexual text messages, images, or videos shared within the relationship for blackmail.
Red Flags to Look Out For
It would be best to stay vigilant regarding online dating scams to avoid falling victim. Here are some red flags that may indicate that someone is trying to scam you:
- They ask for money – If someone you’ve just met starts asking, this should be a warning sign that something isn’t right.
- They refuse video chat – If they won’t agree to video chat but will only communicate via text messages, this could be a scammer who doesn’t want you seeing their face.
- They refuse to meet in person – if they are constantly coming up with excuses as to why they can’t meet up, you should be very alarmed.
- They don’t answer your questions – If they dodge questions or won’t provide answers when asked, this could be a sign they aren’t being honest with you.
How to Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams?
To avoid falling victim to the many dating scams online, consider these tips when speaking to strangers online.
Do Your Research
Take the time to do some research about the person you’ve been chatting with online. Try searching for the person’s name on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter and see if you can find any information about them. If they have an account on any of these sites, looking at what kind of content they post and how they interact with other users might be a good idea. This can give you an idea of whether or not this person is legitimate.
Be Wary of Requests for Money
If someone you’ve met online asks for money, it is likely a sign that they are running a scam. It is best to proceed cautiously when dealing with anyone who requests money from you without meeting in person. If the person continues to press for money after multiple requests, it’s time to leave the situation altogether.
Protect Your Personal Information
It’s important not to share too much personal information when communicating with someone through an online dating site. Always keep your address and phone number private until you can meet and get to know each other better. It’s also wise not to send any pictures that contain identifiable information such as your face or address – even if someone threatens you with blackmail or worse over the internet, it’s still best not to risk sharing anything too personal until after you’ve met up in real life and can confirm their identity and trustworthiness.
How to Report a Scammer?
Wherever the scam has started should be the first place you report your scammer. Many dating apps like Tinder or other online sites have reporting options. Be sure to report their account and any threats they could have sent. If the scam turns into blackmail or sextortion, victims must take it further and report the crimes to the authorities.
These crimes are illegal and need to be handled by experts to put the abuse to rest. You should also report the crime to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and our cybercrime experts. The more help and support you receive, the better chance of ending the abuse sooner.
Forming romantic relationships online is all too common these days, so it’s essential to know how to protect yourself from online dating scams – but by following these simple tips, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim! Do your research before sharing any personal details about yourself; be wary of requests for money; and never share too much personal information over the internet until after you’ve had a chance to meet up in real life and get to know each other better! Take care out there!