Internet dating can be a great way of meeting people but it can also be fraught with danger and, like almost everything else on the internet, scammers abound. In fact, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable singletons fall victim to scammers every year. Don’t get caught up. Watch out for the following red flags and if you are in any doubt about the validity of a person’s identity, run for the hills and don’t look back!
1. Dodgy correspondence
The usual script for internet dating is to begin your on-line relationship by exchanging emails for a while. This is a good idea as it gives you both a chance to see if you enjoy the same leisure activities and think along similar lines, etc.
Now, not everybody is great at English so you can forgive a few spelling mistakes or typos but be wary if the emails are vague, have repeated bits of text or are hard to make head or tail of. Most people write in a certain tone and style. If the messages change from sentence to sentence or gradually over time, then you should be suspicious of the sender.
An immediate response to your email (within a few minutes) could be a heads up that something’s not quite right, particularly if your correspondent seems to be logged into the site 24/7.
2. Who are you?
Beware the person who shares a confidence very early on in your correspondence with them. The sob-story very quickly becomes an emergency and you are the only one he/she can trust to help.
Don’t be taken in. Ask yourself, what personal information have they divulged to you? Do their emails seem personal and chatty or awkward and fake? Does their topic of conversation change with every communication? Do you get the impression that the person you’re communicating with is writing to you from a script or may be trying to steer you along a particular path?
3. Can’t buy me love
If Mr or Mrs Right at any point in your communications asks you to cash their cheque or money order or to ‘lend’ them some money, you are being scammed!
No matter how desperate the sob story you’ve been fed, no matter what reason they give, no matter how much they’ve made you feel special during the course of your emails, whatever you do, don’t go there. You can rest assured that once you cough up the cash they’ll be back for more, and more and more! Lonely, gullible people have been scammed for thousands in this way. And when their money runs out, so does the scammer.
Another favourite tactic is to try to convince you that they would really love to come and meet up. You’re the one they’ve been waiting for all their lives and it would mean the world if they could only come and meet you; but they simply don’t have the money for the air fare. Perhaps you could lend them the money for the ticket? Of course they’ll pay you back when they arrive.
Don’t fall for this one either. You wire them the money and they disappear with it.
4. Looking good
Look closely at the photo of the person you’ve been writing to. If the photo looks too good to be true; it probably is.
That’s not to say that extremely attractive people never use dating sites because they do, but if your on-line date is an absolute stunner who also happens to fall into one or more of the other red flag categories already mentioned, tread carefully because they may not be all that they seem.
There are many genuine singles out there in internet dating land, just make sure that the great guy/girl you’re chatting with is one of them and don’t get caught up with the minority of scammers.