Don’t fall blindly in love, outsmart the scammers by knowing their tricks.
We’ve talked a lot about how you can find love on dating platforms, from learning how their algorithms work to finding unique technological solutions to matchmaking. At this point, most of our readers know almost everything about finding a partner. But you might not know that, just like every other aspect of the internet, online dating is also plagued with scams.
According to a report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as of 2021, online dating platform users have lost US$547 million to dating scams. The only way to avoid falling prey to these scams is knowing what they are. And so, here’s a list of some of the most common scams that you might encounter in your quest for love.
Catfishing is a scam that you might already be familiar with. It is a situation where a person pretends to be someone else, often an extremely attractive person, to get matches on a dating platform. Some of the tell-tale signs that the person you matched with is a catfish are—
- Their pictures look good enough to be in a magazine.
- They are avoiding video chatting or meeting in person.
- They have very few friends/followers on social media and/or a recently created profile.
If you suspect someone of being a catfish, you should conduct a reverse image search on the images they have shared on their dating profile to check whether they are actually using their own pictures or not.
Pretending to be abroad
Another common trick a scammer uses is that they pretend to be outside your country. They’ll say things like, they’re in the military, working as a doctor for an international organization or just simply living abroad. By convincing you of these, they will try to get you to pay for their plane ticket, passport and visa to visit you in your country.
In case they pretend to be in the military, they might say things like—
- They can’t access their bank account at the moment and need your help.
- They have to pay to get a leave.
- They need you to hold some money or some package for them. (Their intent here is to get your confidential information like address or bank account details)
Some scammers will spend time convincing their victims that they actually care for them and then get the victim to either perform intimate acts on video or send sexual images. They then use these images or videos as leverage against the victim to extort money. Some common signs of sextortion are—
- They will ask you to send nudes with your face in them.
- If you get on an intimate video call with them, they will claim their video camera is broken.
Unfortunately, given how easy social media has made it to find out someone’s identity, you could actually end up in a tough situation if your intimate images end up with a scammer. If you find such a scammer when using a dating platform, the best thing to do is to report it to the concerned authorities.
Some scammers are on dating sites with the intent to spread malware. To do so they might send you a link to another website— like a video game or service they want you to try. If you click on these links, you would be redirected to a webpage that contains some sort of malware or ransomware that allows the scammer access to your personal information. Some features of these scams are—
- Shortened uniform resource locators (URLs) which hide the actual website
- Grammatical errors or typos on the website’s landing page
You can identify that a device has been infected with malware if it starts performing tasks at a much slower rate than before or is restarting or crashing unexpectedly.
Crypto investment scams
The popularity of crypto has led to the entry of a new variety of scammers on the online dating scene. These scammers use a tactic called pig butchering or “sha zhu pan” (杀猪盘) in Chinese, wherein they constantly flatter the victim and bombard them with love before engaging in a scam—just like a butcher fattens up a pig before slaughtering it. Much like the extortionists we mentioned earlier, these scammers also get you to form a deep relationship with them before they bring crypto into the picture. To do so—
- They would bring up their own investments in a particular cryptocurrency or share a link for you to check out.
- They then convince you to buy cryptocurrency on a legitimate website, like Coinbase or Crypto.com, and then transfer it to a fake crypto exchange.
- These fake crypto exchanges also look authentic, showing the value of the victim’s crypto holding going up and down.
- Often victims are even allowed to withdraw some money when they first start investing so that they start to trust the fake exchange.
When the victim trusts the exchange and puts a lot more money into it, the scammer goes in for the kill and stops all communication with them after stealing the money. The only way to avoid falling prey to these is to do your due diligence and check whether the crypto exchange and/or the cryptocurrency is legitimate or not.
If this list tells you anything, it is to always have a healthy level of skepticism when meeting someone online. Make sure to do some basic background checks (like a reverse image search and looking at their social media) to ensure that you aren’t getting scammed by a match. Hopefully knowing about these scams beforehand will help you stay vigilant even when you are on the lookout for a genuine connection.
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Header image courtesy of Freepik