How to tell if someone is scamming you on a dating site
What is a romance scam? The scam is sometimes called catfishing and its victims are said to have been catfished. The scam involves two individuals. The victim is usually a user of social media or a member of an online dating site. The scammer will reach out to the victim with offers of friendship that very quickly evolve into declarations of love. Unfortunately, the scammer is almost never who they portray themselves to be and often their only goal is to trick the victim into sending them money. How do you know if you’ve been catfished? There some telling signs of a romance scam that nearly all victims report.
These types of scams have been around as long as the Internet, and maybe longer. As long as people are motivated to deceive to make a buck, there will be victims of this and other scams. If you’ve fallen victim, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Scammers count on this fear because your knowledge is power. Informed consumers are much harder to deceive.
How does a romance scam start?
Generally the scam starts with an initial contact by the scammer. The scammer may be a member of the same online dating site as you or any online forum you have joined. The scammer may also contact you on social media – it’s always a good idea not to accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Once the contact has been made, the discussion is friendly at first, but very quickly turns romantic. Victims usually report that this shift occurs very early on in the relationship.
The scammer will ask you a lot of questions about yourself, knowing that the more information they know about you, the easier you will be to manipulate. The scammer will spin a tale about him or herself as well. Eventually you will begin speaking over the phone. This romance stage can last sometime – weeks and months even.
Of course you shouldn’t fear everyone you meet online. It’s a good bet that most people you meet are generally good people just surfing the net the same as you are. So how can you tell if you’re falling in love, or being catfished?
Even innocent people can fall in love quickly, but if you start to notice any of these signs, you should be wary:
- Love happens quickly – You’ve only just met and the person you’re chatting with is already calling you their soulmate. Maybe you knew each other in a past life… You’re meant to be together… They’ve never met anyone like you… etc. It’s normal to be cautious about trusting new people, but the scammer bypasses this awkward relationship stage pretty quickly. If it all seems to be happening too fast, it might very well be a scam.
- The story doesn’t stay the same– Even the most seasoned liars can slip up, especially if they’re spinning a tale as long the life and times of someone completely made up. You may not remember every detail they’ve told you about themselves, but if some part of their story doesn’t sound quite right, or if you could have sworn the story was different last week, you might be dealing with a liar.
- Their profile picture is gorgeous– Yes beautiful people fall in love too, but because scammers like to keep their identities hidden, they usually won’t send you an actual picture of themselves. Often they’ll steal someone else’s profile picture. It’s easy to find out if the person you’re talking to has done this. You can do an online search for the image directly. If any other websites or online profiles show up in your search, you can bet the image was stolen. You should also be wary if they give you excuses as to why you can’t video chat or meet in person.
- Bad grammar – Another sign is communication that is poorly written. Many scams originate overseas. If the scammer tells you they’re from Florida, but write as if English is not their first language, this could be a red flag.
What does the scammer get out of it? Almost always, as the romance progresses, the scammer will eventually begin to ask you for money. He or she might use the excuse of needing to borrow money to book a flight to meet you in person, they might claim that they themselves or a relative has been in an accident and needs help paying medical bills, or that they need the money for some business venture – either way the money is the reason for the scam. If you give in, they’ll keep hooking you as long as you keep sending the money. It’s a big red flag if they ask you to put the money on a prepaid debit card or to wire it to them directly because these are both untraceable and once the money is sent it cannot be recovered.