Online Dating Scams
Every year a large number of people fall victim to online dating scams. You may be reading this thinking “I'll never fall for one of those scams” but many people are already becoming a victim without even realising it. For this reason it is vital that you recognise the signs of an online dating scammer and are aware of the types of scams that are unfortunately commonly used. The purpose of all dating scams is to obtain money from innocent individuals who are using a dating site for legitimate reasons.
Types of scam
Here is an outline of the dating scams widely used.
This scam is fairly straightforward. Once a scammer has befriended you on a dating website, they will suggest meeting up. Once you agree to meet them they will tell you that they are currently living overseas and require your help to afford the travel expenses to visit you. Having gained your trust, many people feel this is a genuine reason to send money to someone they have never met.
Numerous prostitutes use online dating sites to solicit business. With sleazy usernames and personal descriptions, their profiles are generally easy to identify. Don't be mistaken into thinking these people are actually looking for a date or a relationship, they are simply out to make money at your expense.
This scam is not just restricted to dating sites; but it has now sadly become one of the online dating sites scams. Once you are in contact with a scammer from a dating site, they may send you a telephone number claiming it is their number and ask you to call them. Once you have made a phone call you will receive a very expensive phone bill.
There are a number of different varieties of postal scams about, but they are all similar and have the same purpose; to obtain your money. One of the most common is the Nigerian 419 scam, also known as AFF or Advanced Free Fraud. You will be approached and befriended by someone on an online dating site who says they live in the UK and work abroad, typically Nigeria, although other countries may include Ivory Coast, Ghana and possibly other countries in western Africa. Once they have gained your trust, they will then ask for some money and give a plausible cause and will lead you believe that you are the only person that can help them. It is at this point that many people send money and never hear from the scammer again. For further variations of the postal scam, please see our separate article on postal scams.
What or who is a scammer?
A scammer, male or female, is someone who creates a false profile on a dating website who will then have access to contact other members. A scammer will befriend you and gain your trust until they feel the time is right to use one of the above scams. This may take only days, or even as long as a year. Scammers create a profile similar to your perfect match and they will tell you what they think you want to hear. Scammers realise that people on a dating site are single and looking for love, so they take advantage of that and pretend to be your ideal partner and give the impression that they are very interested in you. Their plan is to gain your trust so you will let your guard down and that is when you become vulnerable and therefore susceptible to a scam.
How do I know if I am in contact with a scammer?
There are a number of signs to look out for when looking for a scammer. Some may not be apparent initially, while others are blatantly obvious. Here are the most common scammer indicators to look out for when in contact with someone on a dating site:
A professional photo of someone who looks like a model. If the photo looks too good to be true, it usually is. Professional photos are usually of beautiful models, which is appealing to many and it is for that reason that scammers use these photos. Profiles with a beautiful photo usually receive a large quantity of mail. This allows scammers to choose who they wish to pursue.
- A vague personal description which does not match the photo.
- A sleazy username and personal description. A scammer may create a profile of a woman who mainly talks about sex and experimenting in bed, to attract male attention.
- The person you chat to online will mainly talk about themselves, without revealing any personal information, and they will not answer any questions you have asked. This is because the message they send you is being sent to numerous people at once.
- Conversations may be repeated and topics will change with each new message.
- They may ask you to switch to using your personal email or instant message system. This is so they will avoid detection by the online dating site as they build a relationship with you.
- They will claim to be in love with you or falling in love with you. You may find them sending you romantic poems which they will claim to have made up. An example of a poem is: Sometimes I look up at the stars at night, Wishing that you were holding me tight. I hold back the tears before they slide down my cheek, Praying to God to keep me strong, not weak. I make a wish in the deepness of my heart, that soon we'll be together, not so far apart. I think of all the good times we have shared, I want you to know that I'll always care. I want you to hold me and never let me go, I miss you and love you, just thought I'd let you know.
- Very poor grammar and spelling and often the use of words you wouldn't generally use, even if the sentence makes sense, are common indicators of a scammer. Sentences may also be difficult to understand. It is important to remember that not everyone is good at spelling and grammar, so this is not always a valid reason alone to believe someone is not a genuine member of a dating site.
- The style of messages may change throughout communication. The tone, language, grammar or style may appear different in each message. This is often due to the scammer being more than one person, and due to the fact that they are sending messages to a number of people.
- A scammer will reply to your messages very quickly, even immediately, usually because they are online waiting for responses. Immediate responses every time you send a message, and with no arrangements beforehand as to when you will be online, show that you could possibly be in contact with a scammer.
- Most importantly a scammer will ask for you to send them some money. A money request will be joined with a plausible reason. Please see our article on postal scams for some possible reasons a scammer may give to ask for money.
What do I do if I believe I am in contact with a scammer?
Whether you are just concerned or even definite that you are in contact with a scammer here on Completely Free Dating, please stop all communication with them and inform us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I do if I have been a victim of a scam?
If you have sent money to a scammer, there are two possible outcomes. Either they will continue sending you messages requesting more money for yet more plausible causes, or you will never hear from them again. Either way, the scammer will have already gained money from you. Unfortunately if you have sent money, there is little chance of you recovering it.
Am I safe using Completely Free Dating?
Unlike many other online dating sites, we here at Completely Free Dating screen our members. Only individuals who live in the UK are allowed to join Completely Free Dating and we take immediate action if a someone from overseas attempts to join. Some people believe free dating sites do not care about who joins, but that is not the case here. Even some of the larger paying sites allow anyone, including scammers, to join, and they are only concerned about their members actively sending messages, regardless of the content. Although we screen our members to the best of our ability, it is always possible for a scammer to appear. If this does happen and you are unfortunate to be approached by one on Completely Free Dating, please report them to us by emailing us at email@example.com. As long as you follow our basic online dating safety advice you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
The most important thing to remember is under no circumstances should you send money to anyone for any reason. Don't let scammers spoil this fun and worthwhile experience for you. Online dating is hugely successful and perfectly safe. Simply follow the online dating safety advice, be sceptical and steer clear of the scammers and you will have no worries using online dating sites.