We’ve all heard the horror stories: Man’s Online Fiance a Fake, Loses Thousands in Online Dating Scam. Jilted at the Airport: Woman Gets Stood Up By Online Boyfriend.
Despite the much publicized successes of online dating, there still lies a trail of broken hearts and empty wallets.
It’s not hard to see why: it’s much easier to be perfect on paper, and scammers know that a stringing together pretty words make the best bait. Online scammers prey on people’s vulnerability, and there’s no other place where they’re more exposed than in cyberspace, looking for for love.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself from online sweetheart scammers. And while the following tips may not be the recipe for happily-ever-after, it at least guarantees that you’ll have a more pleasant-and safer-online dating experience.
Never give out personal information. The most important rule is probably the easiest one to break. Why? Because when you find someone you like, it’s hard not to give any contact information: your phone number, your name, and your email address. The problem is, a combination of all three can open up a host of information to anyone who knows how to google.
It’s understandable that you want to be reached, but some online scammers are also involved in online identity thefts. Not only can they trace you back to your home, but you might be handing them the keysto your door too.
If you want to be contacted, stick to your dating site’s email or chat service. If you’re not using a membership site, create a generic, web-based email used specifically for dating. Never give out your phone number until you’re comfortable, and even then, only give out your cell number, as this can easily be changed should things turn sour.
Be wary of people asking for money. Scammers will waste no time in asking you for money. That’s because the longer they wait, the more expensive the scam gets-for you, and for them.
This is the best way to spot a scammer: all of a sudden, a family member will get sick, or they’ll run into some money problems that’s threatening to cut their net. They could ask for a large amount, such as help in medical expenses, or something as small as $50 to pay for a cell phone so they can call you. (Nice try.)
The more they say I love you, the more it will undoubtedly cost you. So do yourself a favor, the moment they stop being nice, and start asking for money, report them to the site. The shame of being had may sting, but not as much as it would if you actually lost some money.
Traveling? Hire a lawyer. Russian dating scams are notorious for this particular maneuver, as are other international scammers.
They’ll express the desire to see you, but won’t have money to do so. And since you want to see her, and perhaps even show her off, you’ll fork over the money needed for the plane tickets. Except it doesn’t end there: you’ll pay for the visa, the processing fees, and a host of other expenses they just happened to have cooked up.
In some cases, the scam goes further: you’ll visit them, fall even more in love, and then the milking starts. Filing fees, marriage visa applications, traveling fees from within the country, agent fees, etc. etc.
If you’ve actually gotten to the stage where you want to get married, research the paperwork yourself, then consult a good immigration lawyer. Not only will they guide you through it, but they’ll tell you exactly how much need to spend. An even bigger advantage is, they’re more adept at smelling scammers than you are. So you’ll have the opinion the opinion of a totally unbiased party.
Don’t be slow, be cautious. If you’re the type of person who likes to rush into things, then maybe you’re not suited for online dating. Meeting someone online requires a lot of patience. It’s not that you’re being slow, but that honesty can almost always be verified by time. Talking it out, getting to know the person, before moving onto the next step.
And listen to your instincts. If this seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If the relationship leaves you feeling more suspicious than giddy, then it’s better you just end it.
Online dating is not for everyone, and at the end of the day, it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there for someone you only interact with on the screen. If you don’t think you have the guts to take a chance, then it’s better you limit yourself to people within your city. Or better yet, stick to the real world. If they suck, then all you have to do is stop returning their calls.