Number of online dating scammers has tripled in recent times

The Federal Trade Commission in the US issued a warning to consumers in July 2018, about an increase in online romance scams, where known cases in the US tripled between 2012 and 2016.

Online romance scams usually start on dating sites, Facebook and in chat rooms with the aim of the scammer to trick people into sending them money in the name of love.

“These imposters create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love,” said Carol Kando-Pineda. “Some even make wedding plans before disappearing with the money.”

In a separate article in the South China Morning Post, it reported that romance scams in Hong Kong had also tripled in recent times, as African masterminds recruit in Asia.

New statistics released ahead of Valentine’s Day prove that the UK is continuing to lose huge amounts of money to romance fraud as well – with victims conned out of £41 million in 2017 alone. This is according to figures from The City of London Police, whose remit covers online fraud nationwide, working with Get Safe Online and its partners.

Romance fraud is when someone creates a fake identity to enter into a relationship with a victim, with the intent to steal either funds or personal information. In 2017, 3,557 romance frauds were reported to Action Fraud in the UK, averaging 10 reports a day.

This amount equates to £11,500 per victim. Those who fall victim to these frauds are almost twice as likely to be women (63% compared with 37% of men).

The victims are almost twice as likely to be women and in their forties or fifties, say City of London police. Only 13 per cent of the reported frauds impacted those under 30.

However, evidence suggests these numbers do not accurately represent the true scale of the problem due to the “embarrassment” felt by some victims of fraud, which can discourage people from coming forward to report their experience. Furthermore, most dating apps and sites do not reveal how many people actually report romance scams to them directly. But, reporting is crucial in stopping these fraudsters whose impact extends beyond just taking money.

Considering the above, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how many people are subject to online romance fraud, but with the constant advances in technology, the number of scam victims is definitely on the rise. This is why dating apps and sites need to do more to vet their users.

On most dating apps and sites, it is very easy for anyone to create a fake profile and upload fake photos, but identity verification is something we could and should see more of in the future.

Please read my Exclusive News Story on this very important issue:

https://stories.swns.com/news/safety-fears-for-online-daters-as-number-of-catfish-treble-in-a-decade-101607/

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When Should You Delete the Dating App on Your Phone, Once You’ve Met Someone Online?

If you have met someone online and things are going really well between you, at which point do you consider yourself to be in a “relationship” and how long do you wait before you stop using a dating app and delete your dating profile? Is it a mutual decision? Do you both delete your dating profiles at the same time? How long should you wait and how many dates should you have before you make this decision?

Once you start seeing someone regularly, most people will agree that you should wait for as long as it takes before you become “mutually exclusive”. It’s a conversation that you need to have with your partner and you then need to make a joint decision. There should be no exact parameters as to how long you wait, as it’s a decision that you and your partner need to make on your own and you should not be restricted to a certain time frame.

You certainly should not delete your dating profile after two or three dates, as that would be far too early. It’s highly likely that you are still chatting to other people at this stage and are yet to make a decision about the person you’ve just met. You may also be having fun at first and not even thinking about a relationship, but as soon as you both develop feelings and you’ve had a number of dates, it’s then that you should consider becoming mutually exclusive.

You might delete your dating profile because you are happy and don’t want to date anyone else, yet your partner is still dating other people, either because they are looking for something different to you or because you have not yet had that conversation which defines your relationship and allows you to express how you feel about you both keeping a dating app on your phone.

Dating apps can easily be downloaded again, but to take an app off your phone is a sign of commitment to your partner – you are letting go of your online presence. It also means that you are giving that person a fair chance and tells them that you are serious in wanting to take things further.

Has the stigma of online dating disappeared yet?

It’s highly likely that you have met someone online. Many of you will be dating someone now that you met online, or even married to someone you met online. Most people I know have dabbled with online dating and it’s now becoming ”the norm”.

With the busy lifestyles we all lead, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to meet someone when we’re “out and about”.

If you met your partner online and someone asks you, “how did you meet?”, do you make up a story, or do you tell them the truth?

Most people tell the truth nowadays, but if you go back 15 years, that definitely was not the case. There was a stigma attached to online dating. It would have been seen as embarrassing and sad to admit that you met someone online.

The fact is that one in four of us now find love online and in the US, one in five married couples met each other online. In the future, these figures will only increase.

The most popular way for us to meet new people nowadays is online and the stigma and negative attitude towards online dating has almost disappeared, but not completely.

More choice can cause confusion and can be overwhelming. Online dating can be very “disposable”. You have to be careful, get to know someone a little first, stay safe and take precautions as well. At the end of the day, you are meeting a complete stranger, but the rewards can be great.

My new book, “Love At First Swipe”, is out in the Autumn, and will be available as an E-book (incl. Amazon) and also as a paperback too. It will help you navigate your way through the minefield of online dating and to avoid the common pitfalls. My book draws on my own thoughts and experiences, as well as extensive research which I have carried out over the past 18 months or so.

My book is aimed at men and women of all ages and of every relationship preference and sexual orientation. It also looks at dating options for single parents and for people who have a disability.

I feel a great sense of achievement, now that I’ve finished my book, but the main purpose of writing it was to try and help people. I hope I have done this and I hope you enjoy reading it when it comes out.

Long Distance Relationship with someone you’ve met online

You can not help who you fall in love with, but staying in love is another thing entirely and is even harder to do if you’re in a long distance relationship. Most online dating sites and apps allow you to set a distance radius on your profile, which will only show you all potential suitors within that particular radius. This, of course, creates greater choice but also means there’s a greater chance of you meeting someone who lives far away.

If you choose to use an app which doesn’t have this service, or you decide to increase the distance radius on your profile, you might start chatting to other users who live hundreds of miles away, or even to users living in different countries. If you get on well with someone online, there’s a chance you will begin a relationship with that person, so in this instance, it would be classed as a Long Distance Relationship (LDR) at the start, simply because of where you both live.

Not being able to see someone regularly can be tough. Added to that, if you embark on an LDR, you have to consider the costly phone calls, expensive plane tickets, time differences, etc. That said, many of us end up having a long-distance relationship at some point, for the simple reason that love is not always rational. When you are in love, the feeling is rare and is very powerful, so there should be no barriers to love.

LDR’s can work and do work and with the advancements in technology, you are able to face-time or Skype someone, even if you’re living on opposite sides of the world. However, this is no replacement for physical contact, so you have to really want your relationship to work and ensure that you speak to, message and face-time each other regularly. You try to tough it out for the sake of love, even when it’s difficult. Usually, when people see other again, the intimacy and sex are amazing.

An LDR can take its toll but the other main key to maintaining an LDR is “trust”. You shouldn’t stray whilst apart, otherwise the feelings will diminish and your relationship will peter out. Stay faithful and make sure you keep in touch with each other regularly.

The ultimate goal is for you both to leave behind your long distance love story and unite in the same city. This should always be the main objective that you are both working towards and you shouldn’t lose sight of this.

Online Dating – First Impressions

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Not only will you be judged on your appearance, but also on your attitude and personality as well. You should feel excitement at the prospect of meeting your date for the first time. At the same time, feeling nervous too is perfectly normal, as both these feelings go hand-in-hand.

In this modern age of online dating, it’s more nerve-racking than ever before to meet someone in person for the first time. Hopes and dreams are created through the initial conversations you have online. Your expectations are higher than if you met someone in a bar, as you already have a virtual connection with that person, albeit not a physical one.

You may suffer disappointment should your date turn out to be different to the pre-conceived image you had formed in your mind. That being said, the person you meet can sometimes exceed your expectations, or they can grow on you in time and vice-versa. It’s best not to look too far ahead before you meet your date in person. That way, if you do suffer disappointment, it’s not something that you will dwell on for too long.

Make sure the first impression you give is a great one. A first impression is made within the first seven seconds after meeting someone new. When you meet someone for the first time, your date will be making a rapid inventory of your build, smell, height, smile, eye contact, handshake, kiss, confidence and how you present yourself. You will also be making your own inventory of them.

One golden rule is to practice good hygiene. Whilst looks aren’t everything, both men and women are often impressed by a person who appears to take pride in their appearance and by someone who looks after themselves. Make sure you are clean, that you wear your favourite clothes or outfit (but don’t look scruffy), splash on your favourite perfume or aftershave, smile often, keep good posture, make good eye contact with your date and keep your body relaxed. Be kind to your date as well and don’t treat them badly. Whether you end up liking each other or not, you’ve both invested a lot of time and energy into preparing for your date, so don’t be rude and don’t disappear on them.

Most important of all, be yourself. Yes, of course you have to make a big effort and you may be very nervous, but try to relax and show your date what you are really like as a person.

Scammers, Sob Stories & Scam-Packs

We’ve all had a scammer contact us at some point, right? Whether it be an e-mail at work from someone in Africa or South America asking for money, a phone call from a person trying to sell us double glazing where there ends up being lots of “extras”, or an online dating message from someone telling you how handsome or pretty you are and declaring their undying love for you!

Scammers who contact you through an online dating app will often tell you a sob story to make you feel sorry for them. They usually tell their sob story within your first few message exchanges. They’ll say they’ve lost a family member in a tragic way, or that they have a family member with a terrible illness. They’ll say they need money, to help them pay for medical care or travel costs. THIS IS A SCAM!

Scammers may also take on a false identity. There are examples of scammers pretending to be an old school friend that you haven’t seen for years. They’ll say they always liked you when you were younger and that they would like to meet you again now, romantically, but that they need you to pay for their travel costs for them to come and see you. Often, these people don’t have any photos on their profile. THIS IS A SCAM!

Sometimes, a scammer will have just one photo posted and unsurprisingly, they will look like a model! Don’t be fooled! You can do an image search of your admirer to help determine if they really are who they say they are. You can use “image search services” on “Google” or on “TinEye”.

Unbelievably, Criminals can now purchase scam “packs” containing love letter templates, photos, videos and false identities, for as little as a few dollars on the dark web. So many people fall for the scams that the price of these packs has dropped due to the high volume being sold and due to the demand being so great. Often, the scammer’s messages are missing words and the grammar they use isn’t great. It’s common for them to say, “Hello dear”, or, “I think you could be the love of my life”, or “I need money to help pay for..” Blah blah Blah! Don’t be fooled!

Other than bad spelling and grammar mistakes, you need to be aware of inconsistencies in their stories and others signs that you’re being scammed, such as their camera never working if you want to Skype each other. Also, be cautious when sharing personal photos or videos with prospective partners, especially naked photos, or photos with your children, residence or workplace in the background. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material and they can use your photos / videos against you, with the main aim being to swindle more money from your bank account.

You must NEVER give your bank details to anyone, or transfer any money into anyone’s bank account. These are complete strangers. You have never met them and they prey on people’s fantasies and on their desperation to find someone to love. If you come across similar situations, you should block these people and also report them to the helpdesk on your dating app of choice.

One important issue that online dating sites and apps need to improve on is their “vetting process”. More needs to be done – and could be done – to stop scammers from creating online dating profiles.

In a recent study of nine online dating apps by Kaspersky Internet Security, their researchers discovered that four of the nine apps they investigated allow potential criminals to work out who’s hiding behind a nickname, based on data provided by the users themselves. For example, Tinder, Happn and Bumble let anyone see a user’s specified place of work or study. Using this information, it’s possible for scammers to find the user’s social media accounts and discover their real names. BE CAREFUL HOW MUCH INFORMATION YOU PUT ON YOUR PROFILE.

If someone wants to know your location, six of the nine apps studied will lend a hand. Only OkCupid, Bumble and Badoo keep user location data under lock and key. All of the other apps indicate the distance between you and the person you’re chatting to. By moving around and logging data about the distance between the two of you, it’s easy for any scammer or complete WEIRDO to determine a very close location of the “prey” – YOU!! You can usually turn your location tracking / GPS on and off quite easily, so you might not want to keep this on all of the time and just turn it on when you’re actually online looking for people within a certain radius.
If you have provided your account details to a scammer, or sent money to them, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. You should also contact the police and report the scammer to your dating app of choice.

“Cuffing” Season

The cold nights draw in, the sunlight disappears and the days shorten. You’re single, unattached and you just want someone to snuggle up with and keep you warm during those long, cold and lonely evenings. Welcome to ‘’Cuffing season’’.

This is the modern term used to describe the period during Fall/Autumn and Winter months in which lonely singletons find themselves seeking to be “cuffed” or “tied down” by a serious relationship. You would be forgiven for thinking that ‘’cuffing’’ is a kinky term and something to do with to BDSM.

Online Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble see a big increase in the number of active users and sign-ups during the months of November through to February. Cuffing season usually kicks off on 1st November and runs until the day after Valentines day (14th February). During this period, people who would normally prefer to be single or promiscuous, find themselves (along with many other singletons) wanting to be “Cuffed”. The cold weather and forced indoor activity causes singletons to become lonely, so many look for someone to spend this time with and are therefore looking to be cuffed. Christmas can also be also be a lonely time of the year for people who are not in a relationship.

Cuffing is often viewed as being temporary and seasonal. It can be this, yes, but it can also lead to a serious long-term relationship. Put simply, it’s the act of finding a significant other for the sole purpose of staying warm during those cold winter months. Although Cuffing season tends to be casual and fun on the whole, we all know that relationships aren’t usually as simple as that. Feelings can develop, even if the initial goal is to just have a ‘’cuff buddy’’ over those colder months. If feelings are mutual, you need to talk to your cuff buddy and you should always go with your gut instinct.

Serious relationships can occur when you least expect them to. Emotions can quickly change and there’s always the possibility of falling in love with a new online acquaintance. Once you’ve matched with a prospective partner online, you will need to evaluate whether or not they are looking for the same thing as you.

‘’A good cuffing partner is one that will make plans in advance, instead of just asking you out for the upcoming weekend’’, says Dr. Jane Greer, who is a New York-based relationship expert. Someone who plans in advance shows signs of commitment which is a great indicator for a long-term relationship.

Being attentive is also very important during cuffing season and there is no reason for either of you to play games and be distant with each other. When your cuff buddy messages you, you should reply as soon as possible. You should want to hang out with your cuff buddy at least once a week, that’s if you want to keep them around until the Spring. You may have been hanging out together and doing cute, fun and sexy things whenever you meet up, but unless you have both agreed that you want to be on each other’s social media, you probably shouldn’t be adding any ‘’couple pictures’’ just yet. You should remember that this relationship is more than likely going to end come Spring, so flaunting your relationship online might not be the wisest idea at this stage. You’re having great times together now, but come those warmer months, you should not assume that you will be invited to any family gatherings or parties.

Many scientific studies have proven that cuddling releases the happiness hormone, oxytocin. Once this hormone is released, it is human nature to continue doing the same thing that causes it to be released. This is simply because it makes us feel happy. Cuddling up with a cuff buddy on those long winter nights is obviously going to lead to some fun and sexy times, but as we all know, if you’re having sex you need to be responsible and stay safe. Practice safe sex, so that you don’t end up with any nasty surprises (or diseases) at the end of the cuffing season.

At the end of the day (or “at the end of the cuffing season”) what really matters is that you met someone new and that you had lots of fun with them. Don’t take the relationship too seriously at first or look too far ahead. See how things develop with your cuff buddy and go from there.

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