In the modern world, where technology has become second nature, dating and finding love are more than ever dependent on tech and dating apps. The result is an influx of dating sites and apps specific to everyone’s needs.
All this comes with its bright and dark sides: the dark side is riddled with online dating scammers out to prey on people seeking love. Most often, they‘re trying to trick people and empty their bank accounts. A recent study by ExpressVPN showed an 80% rise in online dating scams in 2021 compared to the year before.
To help you stay protected online, this piece dives deeper into the specific scams and what they entail.
Who are Scammers, and How Do They Operate on Dating Apps?
Scammers use false identities to trick people into giving them money or sensitive information. They are often skilled at creating convincing online profiles and building relationships with their victims. In online dating, scammers often use fake profiles to gain the trust of their targets and then manipulate them into sending money or personal information. Here are some of the tactics they use.
Creating fake profiles with convincing backgrounds
Scammers often create fake profiles that seem legitimate, complete with photos, background information, and even job titles. They may even go so far as to create fake social media accounts to support their fake identities. Their goal is to gain the trust of their victims and make them believe they are real people.
Building relationships with victims to gain their trust
Once scammers have created a fake profile, they’ll start building a relationship with their targets. They may begin by sending friendly messages, commenting on their posts, or even sending virtual gifts. Over time, they’ll become more personal and share more about their lives. That is all part of their plan to gain the trust of their victims.
Using emotional manipulation to obtain money or sensitive information
Once scammers have gained the trust of their victims, they’ll start using emotional manipulation to get what they want. They may ask for money to cover an emergency, such as a sick relative or a lost passport, or they may ask for personal information, such as a social security number or bank account information. Scammers may even profess their love for their victims and ask for money to visit them in person.
The Most Common Online Dating Scams
Scammers use a variety of tactics to deceive their victims, but some common scams and money laundering schemes are often seen in online dating. They are:
- The Romance Scam: One of the most typical online dating scams is this one. The scammer will set up a false profile and engage in conversation with the victim while acting to be in love with them. They can ask for money to cover unexpected expenses like seeing a sick family or travel costs.
- The Military Scam: In this scam, the scammer poses as military personnel deployed overseas. They will use the fake profile to build a relationship with their target, then ask for money to help with various emergencies that arise while deployed.
- The Investment Scam: This scam involves the scammer posing as a wealthy individual or financial expert. They will use their fake profile and dubious tactics to build a relationship with their target, then convince them to invest in a bogus business venture.
- The Inheritance Scam: Here, the scammer will pretend to be a lawyer or relative of a deceased person, claiming that the victim has inherited a large sum of money. They will then ask for money to cover the fees and taxes associated with the inheritance.
- The Travel Scam: This scam involves the scammer posing as a potential travel partner. They will use their fake story that they are coming to see you or vice versa, then ask for money for travel expenses.
Protecting Yourself from Online Dating Scams
While scammers can be persuasive, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to their schemes.
- Don’t give out personal information too quickly: Scammers frequently use it to pose as their victims or steal their identities. Giving out personal information should always be done cautiously, especially online or over the phone. Verify the identity of the person or organization you are dealing with and check why they need your personal information before disclosing it.
- Beware of people who ask for money: Scammers often ask for money using various tactics, such as asking for payment upfront for a service or a product, posing as a charity, or a government agency demanding payment for taxes, fines, or fees. If someone is asking for money, it’s essential to be cautious and investigate thoroughly before sending money. Research the individual or organization to verify their legitimacy, and never give money to someone you don’t know or trust.
- Don’t wire money to someone you haven’t met in person: Wiring money is an easy and fast way for scammers to receive funds, and it’s hard to recover the money once it’s sent. Scammers often ask for money to be sent via wire transfer because it’s difficult to trace and can be done quickly. It’s crucial to never wire money to someone you haven’t met in person, and if you’re unsure, verify the identity of the person you’re dealing with before sending any money.
- Research how to stay safe online and what tools to use: It’s important to stay updated with the latest online security practices and tools like antivirus software, firewalls, and VPNs to protect your personal information from being stolen or compromised. Using these tools can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to scams and online fraud.
Stay safe with online dating
Online dating scams can be emotionally and financially devastating, but by taking precautions and being vigilant, you can avoid becoming a victim. Remember, scammers can be very persuasive and convincing, so it’s important to be prepared and not let your guard down too quickly. Following the tips outlined in this article, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of online dating scams.