Dating guides and tips

How to Spot and Avoid Scammers on Dating Sites

Online dating scams affect thousands of people every year.

In fact, it’s so popular and widespread that multiple shows on TV document the heartbreak that these scams often bring about. Because it is heartbreaking. After going through the trials of putting yourself out there, conversing with someone new, feeling hopeful for a connection, investing time and money – only to end up with nothing but a painful lesson, it can hurt a lot.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of learning that painful lesson after falling victim to an online scam artist, it’s one we hope you never have to learn again. So, for those who have experienced it and others new to the online dating arena that want to be wary of the scammers that exist, we’ve compiled a list of ways to spot and avoid them so that your next love story is real, not some reality show drama.

Who Do Online Dating Scams Target?

The truth is, anybody can fall victim to an online dating scam. The longer these sites have existed, the more time scammers have spent learning how to get around loopholes and catch someone hopeful of a connection, off-guard. Because of that, you never need to feel guilty for falling victim to a scam, many of these scammers have become professionals at manipulation and deception.

That’s why it’s important to take note of the red flags that these scammers often show:

5 Red Flags to Know to Help You Spot & Avoid a Scammer

1. Profile is Too Good to Be True

If anything on the internet seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are a few signs you should keep an eye out for when looking at a potential match’s online dating profile.

Many scammer profiles include:

  • Very few images or pictures but the ones that are there seem like a professional model
  • Very little information on the profile and no links to other social media
  • Even if you chose singles “in your area” on the site, they seem to live in another country

2. They Try to Get Serious Fast

Something common among many online scammers is their desire to get way too serious, way too fast. In fact, many scammers will drop the big “I love you” even before talking on the phone or seeing your face in person. This tactic is actually used often to get you vulnerable enough to share personal details – even answers to security questions to your bank account or passwords that might be used to shut down or lock you out of accounts on the Internet. Connections can happen fast, but be wary of the type of personal information you’re sharing with this prospective partner. 

3. They Try to Lure Your Conversation Off the Dating Site

Online dating scammers, especially the dreaded catfishes – people who claim to be someone else entirely through online profiles – will very often ask you to move your conversation outside of the dating platform that you met each other on.

The problem with this is that most dating sites are moderated to help protect you from scammers – but by leaving you no longer have that layer of protection. If you go where they request, social media apps like Facebook or Instagram, or private messaging apps like Whatsapp – you instantly become more of a target to a scammer, as often they’ll now have access to information about you that they didn’t before.

4. They Ask for Money

Always be wary of anyone on an online dating site that asks for money or any sort of financial assistance. That may seem obvious, but often times scammers can be very convincing, sharing with you just how dire their circumstances are and how much of a hero you’d be to them for helping. You might hear stories like:

  • “I can visit you if you can buy me the plane ticket!”
  • “I just need some money to help offer support to a sick relative.”
  • “It’s not a lot, my child is sick and I need some help on rent this month.”
  • “I’m actually an entrepreneur looking to start-up a new business venture.”
  • “I’m deployed overseas in the military and am running low on money until I return.”

5. They Avoid the Real World with You

One of the biggest tells that you’ve encountered a scammer is if they seem adamant about avoiding you in any way. If, for example, they won’t talk on the phone, or over video chat no matter how many times you’ve asked. If they plan on visiting you but then always have an emergency at the last minute that stops them from ever doing so.

Like we’ve mentioned, these stories can be immensely convincing, but if you’re confronted with them, you should definitely do your best to verify that they aren’t a scammer. To help with that, here are:

4 Tips on What to Do if You Suspect a Scammer

1. Reverse Google Image Search

It’s actually a really simple tool even if you aren’t that familiar with computers – but if you right click on a profile picture you can then copy that image or, if using Google Chrome, immediately “Search Google for this Image.” Whether you start the search from there or paste the image into the Google search bar, you’ll then be able to see if that same picture is being used somewhere else online.

Sometimes it can even be a free (or paid for) stock image!

2. Never Send Money

This is definitely a next level scam but if money is involved, especially a lot of money, you can never be too careful. As we mentioned, never send money online – but even if you’ve met someone in person a couple of times – be wary. It’s definitely not unheard of for scammers to hire actors for a couple in-person meet ups just to convince someone well-off to send money!

3. Ask to Talk on the Phone or Video Chat

If they seem to be avoiding talking on the phone or over video chat, do your best to press them into doing so. If months have gone by and you’ve never heard their voice or seen their face, the likelihood of a scam is much higher.

Additionally, if they give you a number with a foreign area code, or they finally speak to you and have an accent that doesn’t match where they said they’re from – you’re likely getting scammed.

4. Report the Scammer

Finally, if you confidently suspect a scammer or if you’ve fallen victim to a scammer – don’t be afraid to report it. Letting moderators on the dating site know that you’ve been scammed can have their account shut down immediately. To add, if the scam was more complex with money involved – you can also report it to the police.

This can also help to keep you safe if for any reason you feel in danger by threats from the scammer.

Put Yourself & Your Privacy First

The unfortunately reality of online dating is that scammers and scam artists exists. Nearly anyone can fall victim to them if they aren’t careful and so one of the most important things to remember is always protect your privacy. Don’t share information that could be used to take advantage of you, and make sure you are confident that you know who you’re talking to on the other side of the screen.

And finally, we don’t say all of this to scare anyone. There are true and beautiful relationships born through online dating – but you should always put yourself and your privacy first with any online encounter to make sure you’re being safe, and to give you the best shot at finding a real connection.