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Tips To Help You Spot and Avoid Online Dating Scams

Making Memories:
Creative Dating Ideas

Written by: Lance Metzger

Apr 03, 2008

When seeking romance on the Internet, you should be aware of the many scammers that are seeking to victimize those looking for love.

A friend of mine recently experienced a scammer's attempt to get into his wallet. I warned him of the danger, but he wanted his new girl to be real, so he was willing to remain optimistic through the entire process.

Don't get me wrong, I do not have a problem with optimistic people, especially since I live an optimistic life, even myself.

Through the entire process, my friend would call and ask what I thought of his interactions for that day. I tried not to be too critical of his potential new love, but I frequently cautioned him to look for red flags in her story.

Here is a short list of the Red Flags you should be aware of when seeking a date online:

  • Declarations of Love after only a few emails. When someone declares their undying love after only a few emails and before you have met them in person, the most impressive of red flags should be triggered. There are only two types of people who declare love, without first meeting you in person: 1] desperate stalkers (do you remember the movie, Fatal Attraction), or 2] scammers.
  • They Are Out-of-Country - They may say they are from the United States, but for whatever reason, they are outside the country currently. This is the first signal of their upcoming bait-and-hook strategy. What this generally leads to is a suggestion that they do not have the money to come home and they need your assistance to pay for their flight; or in one conversation I was involved, her U.S. babysitter is demanding money to pay for babysitting services for her young child. If you send them the money, they will lose it, or the money will be stolen from them, and they will need more so that they can get back home to you.
  • They Dodge Personal Questions - They always seem distracted or dim-witted when you ask them questions. Nine times in ten, they will never answer a question you asked. If you are wondering what is up, keep asking questions. This is important, and it takes us to our next red flag.
  • Look For Inconsistencies In Their Story - My friend finally caught the red flag when his girl, who had already explained that both of her parents had died in a car wreck four years before, slipped up. She said the reason that she chose to go to college in Nigeria (go figure) was that her dad "owns" a business there. (Which dad? Her dead one?)
  • Bad Grammar and Spelling - Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of people here in the U.S., who don't spell so hot. But those who are in the States will mask their poor spelling and grammar with plenty of abbreviations: LOL (Laughing Out Loud), BRB (Be Right Back), TTYL (Talk To You Later), CYA (See Ya), ROFLOL (Rolling On the Floor Laughing Out Loud), and WTF (What The ... you know). Foreigners don't know these keyboard shortcuts, nor would they understand why they would be used.
  • Lackluster Photographs - Frequently they show pictures with little or no quality, pictures that are hard to see. Some will actually have two or three good quality pics, but not more. (This isn't a perfect catch, since I only have two photos, one of which is from a professional photo place.) But, as has been pointed out many times before, the scammers will NEVER have a photo with their friends. If the scammer sends you a small photo, ask for a bigger copy. The scammer will not be able to produce one. (This is an area where my own photos can be seen to be real, as I can produce all my photos in their original monster-size.)
  • Lack of Local Knowledge - When my friend found his girl, she claimed to have been from a town only 15 miles from his home. Even if he had never been to her town, he could go to Google to find some information about her town (which he did). When they are from your town, you can ask them about favorite restaurants or party places. Don't be afraid to test them by asking about something that you know does not exist. If they claim knowledge of what you know does not exist, then you will have received a super huge red flag.
  • They Have No Family - This is frequently a hook for gaining your sympathy. Sometimes it might be true, we do know of people who have lost their whole families. But if they volunteer the information, without your first asking, then you definitely need to red flag that contact, and start looking for other red flags.

Many of these red flag items should not be viewed as absolute signals of a fraudulent flirt. But, when red flags start piling up, you should be fully aware of the very real potential of someone trying to scam you.

If you see any of these red flags, but you wish to remain optimistic, figure out what you think the bait-and-hook will be, and then make sure that you don't fall for it when it comes to you.

If an online lover requires you to spend money or give them money, then you need to notify the dating website where you met this person, so that the dating website can kick that person off the website.

My friend was seeing red flags left and right, and yet he desired to remain positive. I told him what the bait-and-hook would be, and he continued forward optimistically. Then on a lark, he put a sentence from his lover's first email into Google and discovered a word-for-word documentation of all of the emails he received from his girl on a website called:

My friend did not have to play the game until the bait-and-hook was offered. Instead, he was able to see well ahead of that play that his girl was sending him a series of form letters that she (or he) uses with many potential marks.

Fortunately, my friend was able to see the light before his phony girl got into his wallet. And hopefully, since you have now read this article and you are now aware of what is going on out there in the online dating world, you will not get taken to the cleaners either.

Lance Metzger writes about relationships, offline and online dating.
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