In today's modern age of online dating, scammers and fraudsters have perfected use social engineering in order to exploit those looking for love. These fraudsters have mastered the art of feigning romantic intentions in order to gain a potential target's trust and affection.
While we have all been blinded by love at some point in our life, it is important to remember that creating a fake online profile is simple and any information available online can be easily fabricated. Action Fraud UK reports that 71% of people who use dating sites say that people misrepresent themselves on their profiles.
If anyone you met on a dating platform is asking for money, financial details or other personal credentials, this is more than likely to be a scam. Be on the lookout as well for repeated excuses or unfulfilled promises, e.g. something always comes up, many times last minute, that prevents you from meeting in person or from communicating via a video call. Below are a few more tips that will help you stay safe:
- Respond to a request for money
- Give out bank account or personal details
- Let the other side pressure you into sending money with a sob story or too good to be true business deal, investment opportunity, or "get rich quick" scheme. Common scenarios are (but not limited to): A close relative or they have a medical emergency, they're facing legal issues, they don't have access to their own funds, they do not have enough money to visit you or to continue on their travels, etc. Usually, the more you question their circumstances, the more details are enumerated to help add to the confusion.
- Accept funds from someone claiming that they do not have access to their own funds for any reason- if this was true, they wouldn't be able to send you money in the first place.
- Take your time to really get to know the other person and trust your instincts. You should be able to verify at least some of the details about the individual using a search engine.
- Put your own welfare and financial security first
- Ask questions, take note of the stories that they tell and watch out for inconsistencies.
- Let your friends and/or family know about the relationship. If something doesn't look or sound right to an individual that you trust, or if you were explicitly told to lie or withhold information from those of whom you trust, be wary.
- Request recent photos or a video call.
- Report anyone who is acting suspiciously to the platform you met on.
- Profiles from foreign countries
- Letting the other person dictate at which pace to take the relationship
- Individuals who attempt to pull on your heart strings with sob stories (ex: ill relatives, requiring money urgently for travel, unable to work, or any other reason.)
- Long distance and overseas relationships
- Not investigating inconsistencies in their stories.