The online dating scam is a ruthless type of online scam where money is stolen from the victim during an intimate relationship with a stranger they have been romantically communicating with over the internet. Online dating scams are becoming more and more popular as more people turn to the digital world to find love. Many victims do not associate this type of crime with romance and are not aware that they have become victims of an online dating scam until they have lost money. There are many signs that could indicate an email or chat relationship might be a scam, but some are very difficult to spot.

10 red flags of an online dating scam:

  1. They avoid meeting you in person
  2. The person is looking for a serious relationship quickly, they’re often overly romantic and talking about marriage just days into the romance.
  3. The person’s online profile disappears and reappears sporadically (which can happen when scammers take over accounts).
  4. A person who claims to be from the U.S. says they are traveling abroad or working abroad and asks for money.
  5. They talk about their finances in-depth but never invite you to view any financial statements or other documents to confirm their claims.
  6. They claim to have a loved one overseas who needs money.
  7. You never hear from their friends and family.
  8. He or she insists on communicating with you only via text or email, never video chat.
  9. Their photos are a little too perfect.
  10. They avoid answering your questions or they change the subject suddenly and frequently.

What to do if you’ve been the victim of an online dating scam:

  1. Stop communicating with anyone who attempts to pressure you into providing your personal or financial information or who seems to be trying to trick you into providing it.
  2. If you suspect you have been scammed, report it to the website, app, or social media site where the scammer first approached you.
  3. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
  4. Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to help determine if they really are who they say they are.
  5. Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere – this may also mean that their profile is fake.

Online dating scammers often use blackmail to lure their victims into sending money. Once the scammer has gained their victim’s trust, they will send them compromising material, claiming that they were hacked or that they have been arrested and need bail money. Scammers will also threaten to publish explicit pictures or videos of the victim online if they do not send any funds. To avoid being blackmailed, it is important to tell family and friends where you are going if you plan on meeting a prospective partner in person, and take precautions with your privacy online.

When searching online for a special someone, you should always let your instincts lead. Trust your gut, and if something feels off, move on. Peruse the profiles of potential dates with caution and be prepared for the possibility that someone may not be what they seem. The best way to protect yourself from an online dating scam is to learn how to spot them.

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