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.