Online dating has become an increasingly popular option for people of all ages looking to expand their dating horizons. While it certainly has its benefits, such as a larger dating pool, it also presents significant risks. The thought of meeting a new person online and potentially falling in love can be exhilarating, but it's crucial to acknowledge the dangers that come with online dating. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of these potential issues, making them vulnerable to falling for a dating scam.
In this blog post, we will be discussing the signs that you may be falling for a dating scam. It's essential to be aware of these warning signals so that you can take action before it's too late. Scammers can be clever and manipulative, so it's crucial to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge to spot red flags and protect yourself from falling victim to a dating scam.
ExpressVPN’s guide reveals that there has been a substantial rise in the popularity of online dating apps. In fact, the number of dating app users is expected to reach 53.3 million by 2025. Despite such popularity, these apps do not provide stringent security measures for their users. This has led to an increase in numerous romance scams and other crimes. Cybercriminals have found a discreet way to lure people into scamming them on dating apps.
Dangers of online dating
From catfishing to extortion, cybercriminals can scam you on online dating apps in multiple ways. Users of such sites should be aware of multiple kinds of online scams. There are numerous cases of victims of financial scams where someone on a dating app asked them for monetary help. It could start as simple as a few pounds for a small ride and later turn into something more malicious. People also use the guise of medical emergencies to create a sense of urgency and ask them for financial help.
Catfishing is very common on online dating sites as scammers tend to create fake profiles of people and lure unsuspecting victims into their traps. There have also been cases of extortion and blackmailing on online dating sites. Due to this, some dating apps do not allow users to share pictures on the platform, as it can potentially result in blackmail.
Also, there are numerous fake copies of dating apps floating around, where users believe they are logging into a legitimate dating app. However, these apps are actually fraudulent and can result in users providing private information to a fake website. Unfortunately, these duplicate sites are quite prevalent, and it can be challenging to get them removed.
Signs you are being scammed on a dating site
If you are quite active on online dating apps, here are some signs you should look out for to protect yourself against scammers:
- If a match is exceptionally clingy to you from the start and claims they have feelings for you early into the conversation, you must be wary of them. If a match is showering you with overly flattering messages or love declarations very early on, be cautious. There are chances they are trying to emotionally manipulate you so that they can quickly get financial benefits. If you are emotionally invested in someone, it will be easier to trust them and send them money if they ask for it.
- If you are matched with someone with vague images or fewer pictures on their profile, try connecting with them on other social media apps. Also, ensure that their social media accounts are not recently made with few images. Additionally, if someone is reluctant to provide any information about them that you can verify, or if they refuse to share personal details about themselves, it may be a sign that they're not being truthful and they may be lying to you.
- No matter how frequently you talk to someone on a dating app, you must block them if they ask you for any amount of money. It could be something like travel expenses to meet you or money for a family emergency or a medical emergency. No matter how urgent the situation seems, keep in mind not to indulge in monetary transactions.
- If you have made plans with someone to meet through a dating app and they keep cancelling due to an emergency, they may be avoiding meeting you. Additionally, avoid meeting some at a secluded place or their home for the first time. It could be a trap to rob you.
- If someone you just met on a dating site asks for your personal information, such as your address, phone number, or social security number, it could be a sign that they are trying to scam you. They may use this information to steal your identity or commit fraud.
- Be cautious if someone claims to be in the military or working overseas. Scammers often use this as a ploy to gain sympathy and ask for money to help them return home or deal with an emergency.
- If someone refuses to video chat or meet in person after chatting for a while, it could be a sign that they are not who they claim to be. Scammers often use fake photos and identities to trick people into trusting them.
- Be wary of someone who always has an excuse for why they can't meet or talk on the phone. It could be a sign that they are not interested in a real relationship and are only looking to scam you.
If a match's behaviour seems inconsistent or suspicious, such as changing their story or avoiding direct questions, it may be a sign of a potential scam.
By being aware of these red flags, you can protect yourself and avoid falling victim to a romance scam or other dangerous situation.
How to report a romance scam
If you suspect that you have been a victim of a romance scam on a dating app, it is crucial to report it immediately. Reporting the scam can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scammer and can also help dating app companies identify and remove fake profiles.
Most dating apps have a reporting feature that allows users to report suspicious profiles or behaviour. To report a romance scam, go to the user's profile and look for the "Report" or "Block" button. Click on the button and select "Report" to inform the dating app's support team about the scam.
In addition to reporting the scam on the app, you can also report it to the authorities. Contact your local law enforcement agency or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to file a report. Be sure to provide any evidence you may have, such as screenshots of messages or emails, to help with the investigation.
Remember that reporting the scam is essential, but prevention is also crucial. Always be cautious when using dating apps, and never send money or personal information to someone you have not met in person. Trust your instincts and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to protect yourself and others.
How to stay safe while using online dating apps
While online dating can be a fun and exciting way to meet new people, it's important to take steps to stay safe. Unfortunately, scammers often use dating apps to prey on vulnerable individuals and trick them into giving away personal information or money. To avoid falling victim to these scams, here are some tips to help you stay safe while using online dating apps:
- Do your research: Before agreeing to meet someone in person, do some research to verify their identity. Google their name, check their social media profiles, and do a reverse image search of their profile picture to make sure it's not fake.
- Keep your personal information private: Never share your home address, phone number, or financial information with someone you have just met online. Use the app's messaging system to communicate until you feel comfortable sharing more personal information.
- Meet in a public place: When meeting someone in person for the first time, always choose a public place like a café or restaurant. Avoid meeting at their home or a secluded location. You could always suggest a virtual date night before meeting in real life if you are cautious.
- Tell a friend: Let a friend or family member know where you're going and who you're meeting. Share your date's contact information and arrange to check in with your friend during the date.
- Trust your instincts: If something feels off about the person you're talking to, listen to your gut and end the conversation. Don't feel pressured to continue talking to someone if you're not comfortable.
Find more comprehensive tips in our article how to avoid scams when online dating and be safe.
Online dating can be an exciting way to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. However, it is important to be cautious and vigilant while using dating apps, as there are many potential dangers and scams to watch out for.
By keeping an eye out for common red flags such as overly flattering messages, incomplete profiles, requests for money or personal information, and inconsistent or suspicious behaviour, you can better protect yourself and stay safe while using online dating apps.
Remember that it's always better to err on the side of caution and prioritise your safety over potential romantic connections. If you do encounter a potential scam or dangerous situation, report it to the appropriate authorities and take steps to protect yourself and recover from any harm that may have been done.
By staying informed and aware, you can enjoy the benefits of online dating while minimising the risks and ensuring your safety and well-being.