Online Dating Scams. Don’t Fall For Them!

Online dating scams are probably the most prevalent scam out there right now. 
Statistics from the Federal Trade Commission indicate that the median loss per individual from dating or romance schemes averages about $2,400 in 2021. 

Over 55,000 individuals filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission in 2021 with losses totaling approximately $547 million. 

Depending on the source, romance or online dating scams can rank anywhere from number one to number three on the highest ranking online scam in 2021.   

Increase in Online Scams 

Online scams have increased over time but this category of online scam has increased greatly since covid, as people are spending more time online. 

This increase has no boundaries as it relates to the age of victims. 
Statistically younger folks are less likely to fall for a dating scam but more prone to fall for fake check or online purchase scams. 

Older folks are the most prone to fall prey to an online dating or tech scams. 
Maybe it is because the older generation may feel more insecure or lonely and desire personal relationships ore. 

How This Scam Works 

Scammers most generally create fake profiles on dating and social media websites and quickly try to form a bond/trust with their victims and will tell them how much they are madly in love with them. 

Scammers focus on divorced or widowed individuals and try to make them feel special or needed and will try to move the online relationship as quickly as possible in an effort to get to the “financial hook” early on in the conversation. 

Often times there is a proposal for marriage and/or offers to meet.  These offers almost never come to fruition.  In scams such as these, the offers to meet are typically delayed every time for due to some kind of unforeseen emergency that prevents them from meeting. 

Eventually the online scammer will come up with an immediate need (scam) for cash.
These requests will generally involve a request for the purchase a gift card and request for the number on the back of the card which allows the scammer to gain access to the requested funds. 

Once the number on the card is provided, you will never see that money again. 
Scammers will also set up bogus account on payment platforms such as Cashapp, Venmo or others.  Once the money is sent it is gone for good. 

Never send money to an individual that you don’t know or have never met.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

These types of scams are usually generated from foreign countries where prosecution of these individuals will never occur even if you can somehow positively identify the scammer. 

How To Spot a Scammer 

Here are a few ways to spot a scammer. 

  1. They will be quick to tell you how much they are in love. 
  2. They will use terms of endearment, such as honey, darling, love of my life. 
  3. They will want to move the online relationship quickly. 
  4. They are quick to propose marriage and to meet. (Neither of which happen)
    There will almost always be an emergency or a reason that comes up that prevents the scammer from meeting.  They are not interested in meeting, only getting money. 
  5. There is an emergency need/request for money.
    If there is such a request for money, assume that it is a scam and stop communicating with the scammer.  They will be persistent and will say anything in order to keep a victim on the hook and communication.  Often times even after a victim refuses to send money, there will be continued contact and requests.  They do not give up easily. 

Not everyone is who they claim to be!! 
You cannot trust photographs sent online.  Scammers will often impersonate someone else. 
The photograph received is almost never the photograph of the person one is communicating with. 

How to Protect Yourself 

  1. Pay attention to some of the previously mentioned red flags. 
  2. Don’t rely on just messages sent back and forth.  Set up a video chat. 
  3. Take it slow.  Let things develop slowly.  Scammers hate this.  They want to move quickly before a victim realizes what is going on. 
  4. Don’t ever send money to someone you don’t even know or to someone whose story you cannot even verify.  DO Not send money via a gift card under any circumstances.  If such a request is made, IT Is a Scam! 
  5. Don’t ever cash a check for someone if they request it.  The check will be no good and you will end up being used to cash a stolen, forged or check on a bogus account. 
  6. Talk with friends and family about what such requests.  This is a tough one, because most potential victims don’t want to have such a conversation with other family members.  If that is the case, talk to a trusted friend or confidant.

Anyone can fall victim to a scammer.  Educated or uneducated.  Young or Old.  Scammers are good at what they do and play on the emotions of their victims.  Again, anyone can be susceptible to such online scams.  Don’t be a victim!!  Verify and question everything.  Above all, don’t fall for the request for money from someone you don’t know or someone you have never met.