9 Sure-Fire Ways To Spot Online Romance Scams

10 November

Bill signed up for a social media site. He was lonely and started talking to this beautiful woman online. He was overweight, didn’t have any friends and was living on his disability check. Bill didn’t have much going for him.

She was sweet and said all the right things. When he talked to her— he felt alive again. It was like he finally had something to live for. He was falling in love with this woman across the cyber waves. It felt real. He could tell she loved him too, or at least he hoped that she cared for him.

The woman asked this naive man to allow her to send packages to his home. He loved her and of course, he said yes. He trusted her. Luckily Bill’s cousin was living with him and discovered the package. He immediately called the police and they came to confiscate the delivery.

What do online romance scammers do to their victims?

First, they lure you in with their sweet-talking ways and make you feel safe and secure with the conversation. They give you the attention you crave. They make you feel appreciated and understood. Then they take from you.

I know Bill and he was lucky that was as far as the online romance scam went. The police that came to pick up the package said most online scammers like this “woman” send stolen electronics or other goods so they are less easily tracked. At least she didn’t take him for any money, like many others.

Other online romance scammers ask for gift cards, and smaller gifts first to create trust. Then once they see you’ll give a little, they ask for more. If you develop feelings for someone it’s easier to get tangled in their web of deceit. Catfish dating scammers lure in victims online.

Therefore, I’m going to share with you how to spot fake online dating profiles.

First online romance scammers create a fake online dating profile — you can learn how to catch them

Online dating scammers can pretend to be whoever they want. Their sole purpose is to deceive victims. Most people online who are targeted by online romance scammers are women above the age of 50. Men are also targeted.

If you’re on any social media or dating site scammers can find you.

When you’re an internet user with social media accounts, you are a target. You are putting yourself out there for the scammer to see. I’m not trying to scare you because internet dating is a great way to find love, I just want you to be educated about it.

Catfishes are masterful at manipulating and deceiving their victims, so they can take advantage of them.

Search Profile Photo by Google Image

If you suspect fake dating profiles pictures— do this with their photo

  • Save the person’s photo from the online into your computer by saving or copying.
  • Go to Google Images.
  • Paste or upload the image into the search box.
  • Click “Search by image.”

When you click on the same photo on top, and a window pops up with a bunch of the same picture on different sites, it is probably stock photography or stolen from some other place. Stock photos are often used, or a pretty girl or handsome man’s photos are stolen from somewhere on social media.

So make sure you put your best, and real shot in your online dating profile photo, in case you’re getting searched!

Many romance scammers use stolen credit cards to join dating sites.

These scammers usually try to move things along quickly to get your phone number or email address. Then if they get shut down on a dating site, they can still get in touch with you.

They will start “Grooming” you. This can take days, weeks or even months. An online dating scammer will want to learn about you and make you feel special with texts, phone calls, emails, or even small gifts. They will also try to isolate you so your friends and family can’t intervene.

This is a usual process. I had an online scammer experience that was emotionally draining. He did all the right things and “groomed” me for about one month.

This is what happened to me when I found a catfish online

When I was online dating a few years ago, I started talking to a man. He was handsome and boy, was he a smooth talker! He asked me for my number. We chatted on the phone a few times, and I was very interested in meeting him. We had so much in common, and I felt like he “got” me.

This man wanted to know all about me, and I loved every minute of it. He wanted to know about my life, my work, my family— everything. He even asked about my hopes and dreams. I thought he was my Prince Charming.

Luckily, I discovered the Google images tool. I uploaded his photo to find out more about him, and his online dating profile picture came up an actual online dating scammers website. I called him out on it, and he wiggled his way out of that somehow.

He was so sneaky and manipulative I almost believed there must have been a mistake with his photo on that site. I wanted to believe the connection I felt was real. There are websites with online dating scammer photos you can search to find fake or over-used photos.

Don’t let their smooth talking fool you

The guy I was talking to came upon a similar site, but it was for my local area. The crazy thing is— even though I had evidence that he was a scammer I still kept talking to him. I didn’t want to believe what I’d found. I still wanted to meet him. (Yikes!).

Eventually, I got tired of waiting to see him in person. He kept making excuses of why he couldn’t meet. He said things like:

  • I was scammed from a crazy woman I met online, and I’m nervous about meeting you.
  • She stalked me at work and scared me.
  • My job is very busy right now.
  • I’m doing a lot of traveling.
  • I have to get my son settled into college.

He used every excuse in the book.

Can you believe it? His catfishing techniques worked on me, and I’m a dating coach. I knew about dating scammers and let myself get sucked into his grip anyway. Even though I knew better.

Dating scams are real, and they will sink your teeth into your heart and your bank account if you let them.

Romance Scammer's Email

To keep yourself safe from romance scammer tactics, check out your inbox

If you think you’ve been sent romance scammer emails you can simply copy and paste the message into google. If they have stolen the words from someone else online, you can probably find them. If they’re found online in other places, watch out. But if you think they’re a real person you want to keep talking to, learn how to email potential dates the right way!

Ask for a verification photo to expose a con man or female romance scammer

If you’ve been emailing or texting each other, you can also ask your newfound “friend” to send a photo. You can ask them to hold up 3 fingers, or send a picture of them in their kitchen by the sink.

Beware: if the person refuses to send a photo of themselves it’s another red flag. They may send different photos, or send a photo you already have of them.

You can ask a person to video chat on Facetime or Skype

In this case you’ll get what you see. If the person is real and wants to connect with you, they’ll probably be happy to see your face and get to know you. If they’re fake they’ll make excuses.

Again, if they refuse to have a video chat— this is another big fat red flag

Meeting someone real online can be so much easier than meeting someone IRL. Meet country people online the smart way!

If they say they are living in another country, this is another sign for you to block them and delete their number

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center stated there were 14,546 victims of romance scams in 2016. That number was almost triple form 2014. Victims have reported about $220 million in 2016 that was up from $87 million in 2014.

These scammers aren’t slowing down.

Romance Scam

Here are a few quick pointers to keep you from becoming a victim to these fraudulent criminals

  • Don’t ever send money to someone you don’t know.
  • Meet IRL. If the person isn't willing to meet you that could potentially be a sign of an online dating scammer.
  • When you meet someone do it in a public place and drive yourself there.
  • Do a reverse number search
  • Ask for their last name and do a background check.
  • Search their name in Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. Most people have online profiles somewhere out there.
  • Don’t give out your credit card, checking account or social security to anyone online!

If you’ve ever been involved in an online romance scam — you’re not alone

According to the FBI romance scammers are on the rise and it’s a crime that can leave you heartbroken and penniless. The internet has made it easy for these people to use sneaky romance scammer tactics.

Special Agent Christine Beining of the FBI said, said trolls looking for victims “is like throwing a fishing line.” When an online dating scammer, also known as a catfish, looks for his or her next victim— they cast a wide net.

So if you think someone is trying to scam you it could be true. If you’ve ever been scammed before— You could even be on a list of potential easy targets for other scams. Don’t fall for it again! They prey on many users online.

If you suspect a scammer you can also report them to the Better Business Bureau Scam Trackers site.

Even though there are a many bad apples in the basket, this doesn’t mean you should be afraid to set up a profile online. If you follow these simple steps you’ll be in the know and be too smart to let a scammer use you. Ever.

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Dina Colada
Dating Expert

Dina Colada is dating coach who has appeared on MSN, YourTango and Women’s Health. She helps singles date the smart way. Get her free love-attracting book and audio tracks at DinaColada.com

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