How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

A woman typing on her computer who is online dating and trying to avoid online dating scams.

According a recent Pew Research study, online dating has lost much of the stigma it once had. In fact, the majority of Americans describe online dating as a good way to meet people. That’s great news for those of us who are looking for someone serious and want help finding the right person. However, there’s a drawback to online dating’s growing popularity. As it becomes more popular and mainstream, it becomes a larger target for scammers, catfishers, and con-artists. So just who are these people and how do you avoid them and other online dating scams?

We talked to Laurie Davis, CEO and Founder of eFlirt and author of Love @ First Click, for her tips on how to spot online dating scams.

They Will Be Otherworldly Attractive

If you haven’t heard of catfishing, it’s when people make up an online identity to trick you into getting romantically involved. You know the saying if it’s too good to be true, it probably is? Well, that pretty much sums up catfishing in its entirety, including the looks of your potential match. “You cannot tell from a profile alone if you’re being catfished, however, the trend we have noticed is that catfishing usually happens from accounts who are incredibly attractive,” says Davis. So if your match looks a little too perfect in every single photo, you might want to ask the person to take a new photo holding up a unique object. Those who refuse may not be on the up-and-up.

They’re Terrible Spellers

Not everyone has a degree in English Lit, however many scammers will consistently use incorrect grammar and spelling because they’re from a foreign country and are portraying themselves as locals. “If it is a scammer, oftentimes English isn’t their first language so look for any inconsistencies in grammar and spelling, or the use of language that is overly emotional for a profile,” says Davis. “That is one of the biggest red flags.”

They Don’t Ask Simple Questions

When it comes to communicating, those who catfish really like to wax poetic and are extremely formal and flowery with their language. “They wouldn’t say something like, ‘how’s your day going?’ Instead, they might write, “Beautiful Amelia, I do so hope your day is wondrous,’” says Davis. “The more specific you can be with your questions to them, the better. Most won’t have a clear sense of lifestyle and will continue to bring it back to what they want in a match.”

They Want to Get Serious Too Soon

Be cautious whenever someone is rushing things online. Not only will a scam artist make the first move with you, but they’ll also conveniently match your requirements to a tee while playing with your sympathy and striking when you are the most vulnerable. “Scammers try to emotionally connect via email so you feel like you’re in a relationship with them before meeting,” says Davis. “If the person seems to paint a picture of what it would be like to be together, delete their messages. You haven’t even met yet!”

Other Red Flags to Look Out For 

According to Davis, if any of the following situations occur, chances are your being contacted by a spammer and should cut communication ASAP:

– Suggesting that you continue communicating through an email address rather than messaging on the site

– Sending many emails to you a day, and long messages

– Keeping the focus of the messages on what your life could be like as a couple versus the reality of what your lives are like now

– Dodging your dates and/or refusing to talk on the phone or skype

– Asking for money

Dating can be fun and exciting. And it should be! However, it’s important to know how to safely meet and interact with new people. Remember that people aren’t always what they seem. If you suspect that someone you’re talking to may be a scammer, stop your communications and immediately report him or her to the site or app you’re using. Don’t let your excitement cloud your good judgement.

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