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Don‘t Let These 13 Dating Scams Break Your Heart or Wallet

Looking for love online comes with the possibility of being targeted by scammers and con artists. While meeting that special someone remains doable, you need to enter the modern dating scene with eyes wide open.

Sophisticated scams abound on dating sites and apps aimed at manipulating your trust and emotions to steal your money or identity. But knowledge is power when avoiding dating site swindlers. Let‘s examine how the most common dating scams work, red flags to watch for, and smart tips to date online more safely.

How Scammers Operate on Dating Sites

Before diving into specific scams, it helps to understand how fraudsters prey on dating site users. Typically they create fake profiles using stolen photos and fabricated details. They spend weeks or months building relationships before exploiting victims‘ trust.

Scammers are masters of manipulation and tell elaborate stories to explain why they can‘t meet in person. Some common ploys include:

  • Claiming to live or travel overseas for work
  • Fake emergencies that require you to send money
  • Hard luck tales of financial woes or health issues
  • Pretending interest in investing your money or vice versa

Once scammers sink their hooks in emotionally, victims get duped into sending money or revealing personal data. The criminals vanish after draining bank accounts or stealing identities.

These troubling statistics shed light on how prolific dating scams have become:

  • In 2020, people reported losing $304 million to romance scams, up 50% from 2019.
  • Reports indicate 25% of new dating app users are fake profiles or scams.
  • Those aged 45-64 account for 45% of reported dating scam losses.
  • The median individual loss is around $2,600, but amounts into 5 or 6 figures occur.

Now let‘s examine 13 common dating scams to avoid falling into these insidious traps.

13 Dating Scams to Watch Out For

While no means a comprehensive list, here are 13 prevalent online dating scams that cost victims million annually:

1. Overseas Soldier Romance Scams

One variation focuses on impersonating soldiers stationed overseas. Scammers prey on patriotism and sympathy using photos of handsome soldiers stolen from social media. Often the supposed soldier hails from your home state to build a connection.

Once a victim bonds emotionally, requests for money start related to "deployment difficulties." Scammers have drained tens of thousands from victims before being discovered. Military-focused sites like UniformDating are hotbeds for these scams.

2. Crypto Investment Scams

Crypto investment scams start with months of relationship building. Then the scammer reveals an inside track for amazing crypto gains to entice sending investment funds. Of course, the money gets pocketed and the scammer vanishes.

These crypto cons exploded along with the recent popularity of digital currencies, costing victims an average of $15,000 based on FTC data. Be highly suspicious of any dating match recommending investments upfront.

3. Bank Account Takeover Scams

Financial accounts also face risk. A scammer may convince a dating app match to hand over online banking login credentials, granting full access. The criminal then drains or reroutes funds from the account to their own.

This scam often starts with a fake emergency and pleas for temporary help with bills. Once credentials are handed over, victims have little recourse to recover stolen money or reverse fraudulent transfers. Never share your financial login information, even with romantic partners.

4. Moving Company Scams

Some scammers get creative with backstories. One scheme claims they just relocated or landed a new job near where the victim lives. They then ask for help paying movers, providing fake invoices showing sums owed.

The key to these scams is urgent deadlines and pushing victims to wire funds before they can investigate the legitimacy of moving companies. Thousands may be sent before realizing it‘s a fraud.

5. Rental Property Scams

Another creative backstory claims a match owns rental properties and is relocating to your area soon. They request security deposits and first month‘s rent upfront to reserve the units. Of course, the properties don‘t exist outside of fake listings, but accounts get drained just the same.

Similar real estate scams involve down payments on dream homes the two of you will live in together. Victims wire life savings only to learn they bought into a fantasy. If it involves handing over money for housing you haven‘t seen, proceed with extreme caution.

6. Sick or Injured Family Scams

Nothing pulls on heartstrings more than an ill family member. Scammers know and use this to their advantage. They work romances while claiming a relative suffers from an accident, illness, or disease. Targets get convinced to "loan" money for medical bills.

One victim recounted being scammed out of $80,000 to purportedly fund experimental cancer treatments for her online boyfriend‘s daughter. Building an illusion of being the only source of hope for a sick child gives these scammers incredible leverage.

7. Stranded Traveler Scams

Imagine finally meeting your online romantic interest in person after months of chatting. At the airport, you get a desperate call saying they lost their wallet and can‘t afford a ticket home. Some temporary financial aid seems reasonable if you believe the person is real.

Except it‘s just a ploy to trick thousands from victims willing to help. The scammer may milk the scam by claiming further travel troubles require more money. Eventually, their "return" gets indefinitely postponed once your bank account drains.

8. FBI Extortion Scams

"FBI extortion" ploys start with scammers sending victims surprise selfies then claiming the photos are underage or were obtained illegally. Next, victims get told an FBI investigation is underway demanding hush money to prevent criminal charges.

The fraudulent claims of FBI involvement and threats of jail time are meant to shock victims into wiring money immediately. The scammers then vanish with the extorted funds. Real law enforcement never operates this way, but fear can cause poor decisions.

9. Bank Account Verification Scams

Some fraudsters use dating sites primarily as data harvesting operations. They pose as romantic interests then make urgent pleas to help verify their bank account information or SIM card ownership online.

Victims get directed to fake bank or mobile carrier sites and input personal data which gets siphoned off for identity theft. The scammer disappears with usernames, passwords, SSNs, and other sensitive info. This scam often impacts older demographics the most.

10. Immigration Marriage Fraud

Not all dating scams seek quick payouts. Some play long games, especially involving immigration status. Scammers court victims into agreeing to marriage to obtain green cards and citizenship privileges. Once legal status is gained, the "spouse" disappears.

These complex marriage fraud schemes fool victims into signing joint tax returns or taking on debts their fake partner incurs. Victims must then work with authorities to undo the criminal ties and restore their own credit and legal status.

11. Bank Wire Redirect Scams

When asked to send money, smart individuals will ask for banking details to make wire transfers. Scammers are ready with accounts tied to fake IDs or money mules. They provide wire instructions routing funds into accounts they control.

By the time victims realize money went to scammers not a real love interest, it gets pulled from accounts and laundered untraceably. Never send funds via wire transfer to someone you haven‘t met in person, even if you verify account names.

12. Sextortion Blackmail

Sextortion cons often start with fake female profiles requesting victims send compromising videos or photos. Once in possession of explicit material, the scammer reveals their true identity and threatens to expose footage publicly if demands are unmet.

The prospect of images or videos being shared widely gives scammers leverage to blackmail increasing amounts from desperate victims. Sadly, multiple teen victims of sextortion have committed suicide after footage circulated among peers. Never produce or share compromising material online.

13. Debt Collection Scams

Some scammers sell victims‘ personal data to shady debt collectors. The "collector" contacts victims claiming their dating match defaulted on loans guaranteed by the victim. Demands are made to repay the fake debt or face legal action.

Fear of legal consequences scares victims into wiring funds or providing personal data. In reality, no legally enforceable guarantee exists. This is just an intimidation tactic and violation of fair debt laws. Hang up on any supposed collector contacting you about a dating match‘s debt.

Warning Signs that Indicate Online Dating Scams

Scammers ply their insidious craft by gaining trust before executing cons. But cracks in their façades emerge once you know which red flags merit suspicion:

  • Moving too fast – Declarations of love within weeks or days of meeting should raise eyebrows.

  • Refusing to meet – Repeated excuses why they can‘t meet in person signals deception.

  • Sob stories – Tales of financial woes, dying relatives, or legal troubles try to play your emotions.

  • Bad grammar – Sloppy written communication suggests scammers from non-English speaking regions.

  • Inconsistencies – Contradictory statements about where they live, work, or are from are tells.

  • Shady requests – Any request for banking details, money, investments, or compromising images screams scam.

  • Profile issues – Limited photos, sparse details, and model looks are suspicious.

  • Evading questions – Dodging or giving vague responses to basic questions should put you on alert.

  • Pushing for commitment – Overly eager attempts to progress the relationship quickly are ploys.

Always trust your gut. If someone seems too perfect, makes odd requests, or causes inconsistent feelings, cease contact and report them. Don‘t let desire for love outweigh rational instincts.

Safeguarding Yourself from Online Dating Scammers

You can balance finding relationships online while avoiding scams through vigilant safety measures:

  • Use reputable, paid sites – Free platforms have fewer checks to screen out scammers.

  • Don‘t reveal too much info – Keep details like your workplace and home address private in the beginning.

  • Conduct image searches – Verify profile pictures aren‘t stolen from elsewhere online.

  • Analyze writing style – Errors and inconsistencies in communication may indicate foreign scammers.

  • Take things slowly – Resist professions of love if you haven‘t met the person.

  • Don‘t send compromising material – Never let matches pressure you into sharing revealing images or videos.

  • Keep it on the dating site – Chatting on the platform itself lowers scam risk versus other apps.

  • Don‘t send money – Never provide matches with any financial assistance, loans, or investments.

  • Meet first in public – Insist on a public place for a first date to be safer.

  • Get family or friends‘ take – Chat with trusted connections to see if they notice red flags you may have missed.

Avoiding isolation and maintaining real-world connections provides perspective when venturing into online dating. Leverage common sense, caution, and safety precautions to have an enjoyable experience.

How Identity Protection Services Combat Dating Scams

Identity theft protection services offer a vital extra layer of security against dating scams. Top providers like LifeLock and Aura include extensive monitoring to detect fraud plus insurance to limit losses:

LifeLock monitors over 1 billion data points for identity theft warning signs. If scammers access your personal data, LifeLock sends alerts about suspicious activity. Plus if identity theft does occur, you‘re covered for up to $1 million in reimbursement.

LifeLock logo

Aura utilizes AI and machine learning to analyze billions of data points daily for activity indicating identity theft. Backed by $1 million insurance, Aura sends real-time alerts about potential scams and helps block fraudulent accounts.

Aura logo

ID protection services arm you with knowledge to outmaneuver scammers. They prevent criminals from catching you off guard by providing an early warning system for fraud. Insurance coverage also helps recover any losses by covering expenses to restore identity and credit.

The Bottom Line on Avoiding Dating Scams

Finding companionship online comes laden with risks. But dangers can be mitigated by understanding common scams, noticing red flags, and using safe practices like identity protection. Approaching online dating with measured caution, wisdom, and safety steps can yield rewarding relationships.

The keys are listening to your instincts, controlling what information gets shared, and looking for suspicious behavior. If a dating match seems dangerously perfect or makes odd requests, cease contact immediately. Seeking love online holds potential, just keep your guard up and use security tools to protect yourself.

With knowledge of how dating scams operate, savvy precautions, and identity theft monitoring safeguarding you, romantic hopefuls can confidently mingle online. Just remember overeager romantic interests may be more interested in your wallet than your heart.

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Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.