How to spot an online dating scammer

The flags are red for a reason.

How to spot an online dating scammer
Photo by BRUNO CERVERA / Unsplash

We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re looking to make a connection with other people – when we’re looking for affection, when we’re looking for sex.

Unfortunately, online dating platforms attract fraudulent activity.

Online dating operators have systems in place to try and protect users as much as possible from fraudulent activity, but nothing is foolproof. You have to keep your wits about you.

How do I tell if an online dating profile is fraudulent?

There’s no hard and fast way to do this – but there are a number of tell-tale signs that you should be alert to.

If you start chatting with someone and they almost immediately ask for your email, don’t give it to them. Same applies if they want to immediately shift the conversation to WhatsApp. Keep the conversation in the dating app until you’re confident you’re dealing with a real person.

If the photo looks like it’s been shot by a professional photographer, it’s probably a fake. If they can’t send you additional photos of themselves, this raises alarm bells.

If they haven’t filled in any of the bio fields, that would make you question what they’re hiding.

If they’ve filled in their bio fields but it doesn’t feel very authentic. That would raise a red flag.

If you’re chatting with someone, and they ask you to send them money, don’t. Even if it sounds like they really need it – maybe they’ve got medical bills, or a sick grandfather, or some other really compelling story. Even if you’ve been chatting with them for quite a long time and you feel like you’ve established a rapport with them. If the money is to buy a ticket to come and see you – they won’t show up. Do not send money to strangers on the internet.

Generally, if something feels too good to be true then it probably is. Trust your gut-instincts – if you think you might be chatting with a scammer, put an end to that conversation.

What should I do if I think I’ve been contacted by a fraudulent online dating profile?

Most dating platforms will have a Report function.

It’s a good idea to report anything you think looks fraudulent – this will generally put the suspect profile in front of an employee of the dating platform – they can review it, investigate it, and suspend the account if necessary.

You should also use the Block function to prevent that profile from contacting you in the future. Don’t waste your time or energy on profiles that you think might be fraudulent. Focus on authentic people that you have a connection with.

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