Online dating red flags – we have all been warned about them and yet we sometimes still choose to ignore them. It is also not always so simple to weed out the truly great singles from the dating scams.
How do you know whether a person you met online is genuine? When is their show of affection real and when should it be setting off your alarm bells?
If you are starting to have your doubts or someone seems too good to be true, take a step back from the situation. Read through these 10 red flags to help you identify online dating scams.
Evaluate their online behavior and signals with an objective mind. Recognize any of these red flags?
I Don’t Have That Many Photos of Myself
This is a very obvious red flag and unfortunately quite a common one. Online dating scammers use stock photos, photos of models or even go to the extent of taking on someone’s else’s identity.
You can verify whether the person matches their profile photos by doing a reverse image check. Recently, online scammers are pulling photos from someone else’s social media account which could make it more difficult to spot a fake.
If the photo pops up anywhere else with a different name or address or it is clearly a professional shot, you are dealing with a catfisher. Stop all contact with them and report them to the website admin.
I’m Stuck Abroad, Can You Help Me?
One of the ways online dating sites try to limit scams is by placing a distance limit. The idea is that someone that lives on a different continent would not be able to come into contact with you and so cannot scam you.
In practice, there are ways to get around this. Scammers will claim to live (relatively) near you but then they tell you that they are currently stuck abroad because of work, family or travel.
What tends to happen in these type of scams is that they ask you for financial help to get back home or try to convince you to visit them abroad. Either way, this is a dangerous situation and you should stop communication.
I Really Wanted to Meet You But Something Came Up Last Minute
So, you have been messaging online for a while, maybe even had a few phone calls but never met in person. Every time you plan a date, they cancel last minute.
Despite them claiming to be very excited to meet you, something always comes up. These can be very elaborate stories or even sob stories.
Whatever their excuse is, it is not good enough. If they were truly interested in you, they would find a way to come meet you in person.
I Cannot/Don’t Like Video Calling
Video calling is not unusual anymore and it is a great tool for online dating. It is very difficult to fake your identity on a video call which is why scammers avoid it.
They either claim that their camera is not working or that they are too shy to video call. Again, if they are truly interested, they would find a way to video call with you.
It is recommended to video call someone you met online before going on the first date. It gives you a better feel for the person and it verifies their identity.
Can We Talk Off the Website?
The respectable dating sites have systems in place to spot online dating scams. At the very least you can report your suspicions to the admin and this will block their account.
Scammers know this so they try to lure you away from the online dating site. They suggest communicating through email, text message, Skype or any other place where they have less chance of being discovered as a fake.
Dating sites recommend keeping conversations on their platform for a very good reason. It helps protect your personal information and it lets the dating site take action, if necessary.
Can You Open the Link I Sent You?
One of the ways scammers and cyber criminals gain access to your personal information is by downloading spyware and malware unto your devices without you knowing it. This can be done through a link or an attachment and sometimes you won’t even notice that you’ve downloaded something.
This is very dangerous since they could potentially gain access to your financial information, take control over your device cameras or find out personal details that would let them steal your identity.
Always be apprehensive about opening an external link or download. Anything that they send you should first go through the internal check of the dating site.
I Know We’ve Only Just Met But I’m In Love With You
This is probably the most famous red flag of online dating scams yet it is also the one most people fall for. What makes romance scams so cruel is what makes them so easy to believe; they prey on your emotions.
Who doesn’t want to meet the man or woman of their dreams? Of course, it is extremely flattering that someone can have such strong emotions for you.
The sad and hurtful truth is that love doesn’t come that easy. Please, be very careful with anyone that professes their love to you before you have ever met.
I’m Desperate, Can You Help Me?
Besides the romance scams, online daters can also fall victim to a different kind of scam. All of a sudden, the person you have been messaging with is in a bad situation and desperately needs your financial help.
A family emergency or health problems are very commonly used. Other examples include legal trouble or stuck in a situation that isn’t their fault.
Anytime they ask you for money all your alarm bells should be shrieking. Unless you are in a sugar daddy relationship, there is no good reason for them to ask you for money.
Can You Loan Me Some Money? I Promise to Pay You Back!
This red flag is similar to the desperate situation mentioned in number 8. The difference here is that they claim to be in a ‘temporary’ financial pinch but they will have no problem paying you back later.
These types of dating scammers often claim to be very successful. They earn a big salary or come from a family with money (many even claim to be royalty).
If that were truly the case, why would they need your money? Surely, they can wait a few days until their own money comes through, ask for an advance from work or have their family help them.
Can You Help Me Move Some Money? I’ll Cut You a Commission.
This is a very dangerous situation, one that could involve you in money laundering or other criminal acts. Never agree to move money for them, no matter how much they offer you in return.
Online scam artists can come up with all kinds of explanations why it is perfectly acceptable to be doing this. Maybe they are trying to cut transfer costs, they have issues with their credit cards or banking accounts or plainly telling you it is for tax evasion.
Whatever the reason, the exchange of money with someone you only know from online is not safe. Always refuse and report their account.
Suspecting someone of an online dating scam is not something we want to do. After all, we are opening ourselves up to others on these sites so we want to believe in the goodness of other people.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the same good intentions. We have to stay alert of any red flags and protect our hearts (and finances) from being taken advantage of.
Try to keep a clear head with online dating and listen to your gut when something doesn’t feel right.