Romance scams are one of the biggest dangers of online dating; being scammed by someone you thought you could love. In fact, the FTC reports that the year 2021 was a bad (or good, depending on where you stand) year for such scams, with 547 million dollars lost to such scams, or around six times the reported losses to such scams from 2017. 2022 was even worse, with reported losses hitting 1.3 billion dollars. So they’re not just prevalent, they’re growing.
So, how do you protect yourself from such a scam without avoiding online dating entirely?
A lot of people these days don’t know dating apart from being online. And if you simply don’t have the time or can’t let go of its good features, then you just have to live with the bad.
So the first way to protect yourself is by identifying a scam. But how can you identify them easily? After all, these scammers are masters of disguise. There are, however, certain signs that a scam is afoot.
A great way to tell if someone is a scammer is if they start love-bombing. That’s when they profess their love over and over again. Look, you may be charming, but no one who is emotionally healthy is going to fall in love with someone they’ve never met. The best case scenario is that the person isn’t a scammer, but does have emotional issues that don’t make them the best partners.
So if they profess their love and you haven’t even gone out on a date, it’s probably because they’re trying to manipulate you emotionally. They’re more than just romance scams, they’re relationship scams, pulling you into believing you’ve built a connection that isn’t really there at all.
Dating apps have their own in-app messaging service. They all have features to track down scammers. As such, a scammer will want to move on to a more private method of communication as soon as possible so they can avoid being caught by the app and thus, cut off from you.
As such, they’ll want to lure you off the site/app as soon as they can because if they get caught, then they lose you. They lose you, they lose their potential payday.
Probably the most obvious way to spot a scammer is if they ask for money. And it won’t be as simple as just asking. There’ll be an elaborate backstory, an explanation as to why they need the money. Maybe they need to pay to travel to see you. Or it could be a medical emergency. Maybe they’ve got debts they need to clear before they can start fresh with you.
Whatever story they tell, it’ll be one that they feel will manipulate you into giving them money.
Speaking of stories, they’ll always have one as to why they can’t meet you in person — even if you sent them money to pay for tickets. Their passport expired. They have a family member that had a premonition their plane would crash. They’re laying low because they’re hiding from a crazy ex. They’re in jail/in the military/on an offshore oil rig. Whatever story they have, it’ll prevent them from being able to see you.
Romance scams are a clear and present threat and they often prey on people who are desperate to find a connection. But no matter how bad things get, no matter how long a dry spell goes, you have to stay vigilant. If trends from 2017 to 2021 are any indication, they’re only going to get worse. So open yourself up, but keep an eye on who’s trying to walk through your door.
The better you learn to spot the signs of a romance scammer, the more you’ll improve your sense for genuine users — the people worth keeping,