How to Spot an Online Dating Scammer

A woman who learned how to spot an online dating scammer laughing while texting someone on a dating app.

Even though online dating can be fun and exciting, while you’re putting yourself out there and meeting new people it’s important to remember that everyone isn’t always what they seem. The sad truth is that scammers purposefully target people on online dating sites because they know that we’re more likely to make rash decisions and throw caution to the wind when romantic feelings and strong emotions are involved. So how do you stay safe?

Though most dating sites take steps to protect their members, ultimately, your online and offline safety is in your hands. While meeting people online, keep an eye out for these eight common scammer behaviors and report them right away.

1. Asking you for money or financial information.
Never give out your financial information to someone you’ve met on an online dating site or app. Seems simple right? Well, it may seem like common sense to keep your information to yourself, but scammers can be convincing. If someone you’ve come to care about asks you to help pay for travel expenses so her or she can come see you, it may be tempting to hand your information over. Don’t do it. Asking for money to visit you is a common story that a lot of scammers use.

2. Contacting you from another country.
Many scammers come from another country or claim to be stuck in a foreign country. Be weary if the story someone tells doesn’t match the location or information in his or her profile.

3. Refusing to meet in person or talk on the phone.
Does the person you’re talking to only want to keep things online? Does he or she ignore you when you ask to meet in person? This is a common scammer move to watch out for.

4. Claiming to love you right away.
Often scammers will come on very strong right away and the language can be over the top and intense. It can be exciting to feel close to someone so quickly, especially when you’ve been wanting a serious relationship for a while, but be weary of someone who claims too much too fast. Scammers will push for a serious relationship without getting to know you or meeting in person first.

5. Pressuring you for your phone number, email, or other contact information.
If someone wants to communicate outside of the dating app you’re using right away, beware. It’s normal to ask someone for their phone number but it’s odd to ask someone for personal information right away.

6. Often repeating things or seeming disconnected from communications.
Does the person your chatting with have a hard time following the thread of the conversation? Do they never remember things you say or only speak about general topics? Many scammers work from a script and are talking to many people at once so their messages are disjointed and odd at times. If replies to your messages seem off-topic you could be speaking with a scammer.

7. Dodging your questions without providing answers.
While some scammers use elaborate stories to get you to trust them, other scammers like to keep the conversation vague. Instead of answering questions about his or her life, the scammer will try to keep you talking about yourself or only speak about emotions.

8. Trying to sell you products or services or offering you a job opportunity. 
If something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. If someone is offering you a great deal on a used car, or a special discount on a product or service, be careful. It’s a common way to get you to give your information out.

If you suspect that someone you’re talking to may be a scammer, stop your communications and immediately report him or her. When you’re excited about someone and starting to develop feelings, it can be easy and even natural to want to do anything they ask. But it’s important to stay safe. Keep an eye out for these signs, learn more about someone before getting too close, and protect yourself and your information.

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