Dating is hard enough, but the rise of online dating has introduced a new set of challenges. With more and more people turning to the internet to find love, it's no wonder that scammers have taken advantage of this trend. Dating scams come in many forms, but they all have one thing in common: they're designed to take advantage of people looking for love.
With over 57 million people using dating apps in the US, scammers have had plenty of time to create increasingly sophisticated schemes. As a result, victims of online dating scams lost a record high of $547 million in 2021.
This article will cover some of the most common dating scams to avoid so you can protect yourself while searching for your perfect match and the latest developments in 2023 online dating frauds.
What are Dating Scams, and How Do They Work?
Dating scams are essentially a type of fraud that target people who are looking for romantic relationships. The scammers will create fake profiles, often using photos of someone else, and pretend to be interested in a relationship. This scam is called "Catfishing".
They'll build a rapport with their target and eventually ask for money for an emergency or help with a business venture. In some cases, the scammers will even go so far as to fly to meet their target in person, only to disappear once they have their money.
Most Common Internet Dating Scams
The following are some of the most common scams encountered in the world of online dating:
Fake dating sites:
- They claim to be legitimate
- Actually full of scammers and not a lot of users
- Created to mine user information
- Scammers convince the target to send personal information in exchange for intimate photos
Military romance scams:
- Scammers pose as deployed military member
- Build trust using military jargon and titles
- Ask for money to cover military-related expenses
Intimate activity scams:
- Scammers connect with the target on multiple social media websites
- Convince the target to undress
- Threaten them with recordings
Code verification scams:
- Scammers send fake verification codes through email or text
- Posing as a dating app or website
- Ask for personal information, including Social Security number and credit cards
- Scammers convince targets they need to get married to get the inheritance
- Ask for help paying for expenses such as airfare
- Common on dating sites
- Scammers send the recipient a website that looks legitimate but includes malware
How to Identify a Dating Scam: Common Red Flags
Many red flags can help you identify a dating scam. Some of the most common red flags include the following:
Quick requests for personal information: If someone you've just met online starts asking for your personal information, such as your address or phone number, this is a red flag.
Asks for money: If someone you've just met online asks for money, it's a sure sign of a scam.
Profiles with professional photos: Many scammers will use professional photos to create fake profiles. If the photos look too good to be true, they probably are.
Lack of personal information: If someone's profile doesn't have much personal information, it could be a sign that it's a fake profile.
Poor grammar and spelling: Scammers often use broken English and have poor grammar and spelling. If someone's profile is full of spelling and grammar errors, it's a red flag.
Avoiding Dating Scams: Tips for Staying Safe
To protect yourself from dating scams, it's important to be cautious and aware of the signs. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe:
Be wary of requests for personal information: Wait to give out your personal information, especially not your address or phone number, until you've been communicating with someone for a while and are sure they're legitimate.
Also, only share sensitive information, such as your financial information and social security number, once you have met the person and established a trustworthy relationship.
Avoid falling for AI-generated text: Be vigilant and carefully examine any messages from unknown sources that you receive through texts, emails, or direct messages.
Certain markers indicate the presence of AI-generated text, such as the use of short, repetitive sentences and language that appears to say a lot but lacks substantive meaning.
This is because AI, programmed to refrain from forming personal opinions, often produces messages that seem devoid of real substance.
Beware of deep fakes: Scammers may utilize deep fake technology to create fake videos or audio clips of people you know, manipulating them to say or do things they never actually said or did.
This can mislead you in potentially losing money or personal information to the scammer. When unsure, call your friend or family member the scammer is impersonating to verify.
Talk to someone you trust: Consult with a trustworthy individual regarding your new romantic interest. It's common to overlook inconsistencies, so heed the warnings of your loved ones if they exhibit any apprehensions.
Don't send money: If someone you've met online asks for money, don't send it. This is a sure sign of a scam.
Verify their identity: Before you meet someone in person, make sure you have their full name and verify their identity through a Google search or social media.
You can perform a reverse image search of their profile picture or use tools like Google Maps to see if the location they provided is accurate.
Report the scam: If you think you've been scammed, report it to the authorities and the dating site where you met the person.
What to Do if You Become a Victim of a Dating Scam
Contact your bank and credit card companies and let them know what happened so they can cancel any fraudulent transactions. Also, report the scam to local law enforcement and inform the dating website administrators.
It is also important to take steps to protect yourself from future scams. For example, change your passwords on all your online accounts, and be sure to use strong passwords that are difficult to guess.
Additionally, research any online dating profiles or websites before engaging with them, and be wary of any requests for money or personal information.
How to Report a Dating Scam
To report a dating scammer, you will need to provide your local law enforcement or cybersecurity experts with supporting evidence, such as screenshots from your conversations or emails from the scammer.
You can also reach out to major dating sites, as they usually have dedicated teams that investigate and report such cases.
It is important to remember to never give out any personal information to the scammer, such as your address, bank account details, or social security number.
Resources for Victims of Dating Scams
There are many valuable resources available for victims of online dating fraud. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) provide a number of helpful articles and resources on their websites.
It is important to remember that if you are a victim of a dating scam, you should not be embarrassed or ashamed. Instead, it is crucial to report the scam to the authorities and to take steps to protect yourself from future scams.
Remember that you may be eligible for financial compensation if you are a scam victim. Contact your local law enforcement agency for more information.
The Latest Developments in 2023 Online Dating Frauds
Online dating fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to target potential victims.
With the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality technology, scammers have been able to create more realistic videos and photos to target victims in more believable scams.
The shift towards automation and AI-based technology has enabled scammers to automate their operations and target more people with less effort.
"With the rise in popularity of artificial intelligence, particularly tools such as ChatGPT that anybody with a web browser can access, the chances of receiving machine-generated information are on the rise" - Business Wire
Scammers have used social engineering techniques to access personal information and financial accounts. They have also been able to use phishing techniques to send malicious links to unsuspecting victims. As a result, online daters need to be aware of the latest developments in online dating fraud and take steps to protect themselves.
The Role of Technology in Protecting Against Online Dating Frauds
Technology plays an important role in helping protect people from dating scams. Platforms such as Tinder have implemented measures that warn users if a potential scammer confronts them or if something appears suspicious.
Additionally, many websites now use sophisticated algorithms and AI to detect potentially fraudulent profiles and messages before they can affect potential victims.
Online dating scams are a growing threat and can cost victims thousands of dollars. However, by recognizing the warning signs of an online dating scammer and following some basic safety tips, you can help protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
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