No sugar coating, online dating does not come without an unfortunate side. Online dating platforms have come to be a place where scam artists lurk. However, you should not let that ruin your experience. After all, you are looking for companionship, for romance, and for love. Don’t give these fraudsters the power to take away what you want out of life.

I genuinely, with all my heart believe that single people live in an amazing time. I absolutely do not knock “meeting in real life” dating, but dating platforms are such cool places for single people to go to meet other single people they might otherwise have never met. It would be a shame if the low-life scummy scammers ruin the experience for people.

Knowledge is power. If you are aware of what to look for, then the scammers don’t win. They can’t sell what you won’t buy.

Ladies: You are more often than not the target, so learn what to look for.
Men: Keep reading so you can avoid appearing like one of those thugs.

Before I get into the tangible identifiers, I want to relay my most important tip. GO WITH YOUR GUT. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Even if you’re on the edge and not entirely sure, there’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution. As they say, there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you’re not interested, move on to someone who doesn’t give you a funny feeling. You can always reserve the right to change your mind. If later down the road you start thinking, hmmmm, maybe this person is legit, then talk to them. Feel out other red flags.

This is what to look for, in order of progression (it’s slow and steady):

  • They Have Few Pictures or Only One 
    • Most people choose a variety of photos. You’ll see a couple of nice pictures of just them (often a selfie) and other pics showing themselves out and about: Doing an activity with their family or friends. If there’s one picture and it looks like “it came with the frame,” there probably isn’t a genuine person behind it.
      • So, if you want to avoid people thinking you might be a scammer take my tip and use a variety of photos.
  • They Use Poor Grammar and Make a Lot of Spelling Mistakes
    • Most of these people are in a foreign country and English isn’t their first language. So, what they wrote will come off sounding a little funny.
      • Another reason spelling and grammar matter in online dating profiles. Might as well invest time and care into your profile and get it right.
  • They will tell you they live abroad, either the military, out on an oil rig, etc.
    • They express a desire to get to know you but have a (seemingly) legit reason why they can’t meet you in person.
      • If you want to give them the benefit of the doubt try to get them talking about well-known places in your town or city – favorite go-to’s. Steer the conversation toward a subject you would both be familiar with.
        • Guys: Be proactive at making this a part of the conversation before being asked.
  • They ask you questions about yourself but won’t talk about themselves
    • This goes hand-in-hand with the above example. How can they share anything personal? They can’t talk about their career because they don’t work in your city or anywhere nearby, they didn’t grow up in a place you would be familiar with, etc.
    • They are also digging for vulnerabilities and ammo they can use against you emotionally.
  • They Express Strong Feelings for You Very Soon
    • They will say the things you’ve been longing to hear. Especially if you’ve been through heartbreak, or it’s been so much longer than you’ve wanted since you’ve been in an intimate relationship. They want you to feel wanted and loved. They are charming and sweet. Hard truth: No one can feel the kind of love you really want someone to feel for you and of which you deserve without ever having met you in person.
  • You will start hearing some sort of sob story. And/Or you may also pick up on discrepancies in their story. Chances are they are working more than one person and they don’t remember who they told what to
    • These stories will be anything that might capture your sympathy (or worse, your empathy).
      • This is where things start to get dangerous. This emotional manipulative behavior is the beginning of when you will start being asked to come to their rescue.
  • They ask for money
    • This is the end goal. This is what they are after. They won’t just ask for a couple of bucks. They will ask for thousands of dollars. They will tell you they are in an urgent life or death situation. Money for plane tickets to see you (supposedly), emergency surgeries, ransom to get their kid back, etc.

Links to a few real-life stories:

CBS News – Older Singles Lose Millions In Online Dating

Wired Magazine – Online Dating Made This Woman A Pawn In A Global Crime Plot

CBS News – Woman Says She Lost $1M In Dating Scam

This isn’t good news, but online daters aren’t the only ones targeted by scammers. We often hear about IRS scams, employment scams, wire fraud scams, etc etc. I point this out for two reasons:
1. Awareness and 2. The Single Stereotype

Your best defense is offense. I will repeat myself: People can’t sell what you won’t buy. Awareness will make you stronger.

Single people don’t come without stereotypes. Single people are lonely, sad and vulnerable, right? Absolutely not. These scammers are attacking the stereotype, not the people.

You can report these accounts, and you should, but for yourself, the best thing you can do is ignore them and block them. I truly believe the reputable sites are doing the best they can to purge these people from the sites.

Don’t fall for it, let it go and move on. If you let it get to you, if you let it make you angry and bitter then you are giving them power – even if you don’t fall into their trap. You are giving them the power to take away your potential future happiness.

This all may be scary but at the end of the day the people out to get you are few and far between. The majority of users are genuine and real. There are amazing, wonderful people in the online dating world. You can take my word for it: They are out there. I put together profiles for them (you) every day.

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