How to detect an Internet dating scam
Posted by mandyf on January 30, 2012
Spotting internet dating scams can be tricky at times, but for the most part you can discern truth from fiction within the first email or two. When looking to ferret out what is a scam and what is reality there are a few signs to look for in the profile, and then again in the emails exchanged assuming it goes that far. They aren’t always foolproof as even people that take time to be cautious get snagged by a scam once in awhile, but you can greatly decrease the odds of being one of these people by following a few simple tips.
Always be suspicious when checking the photograph. The sad fact is a lot of people post photos of someone other than them self. This is a good first indicator that you are dealing with someone that wants to hide their true identity. While this doesn’t always indicate an outright scam in the hatching, it points towards someone to avoid at the least. When looking to spot a fake photo check the photo borders for copyright marks, obvious cropping to possibly remove those indicators, watermarks, or photos which are way off of the description given.
Next read the bio information. Does the profile seem too familiar? If it does you might have stumbled onto someone setting up a scam. A popular scam among men is one with the following type of story. The man claims to be working abroad, usually in Africa, as a part of either a multinational humanitarian team or as a government employee overseeing some project. The man usually cites he has two young children and is recently widowed. He will be returning to (Whatever country he is claiming) in several months and is now at a point in his life he feels he can begin dating again. He will almost always put an easy to obtain email address at the bottom of the page to be contacted through rather than through the site itself as he claims the email on site is unusable to him for some reason.
How is this a scam? It is a scam because you will often notice a few things right away. The first is lot’s of men are in the same exact situation with the same exact story. Too much of a coincidence to be on every major site. Second they will often initiate the contact with you by pasting in this same exact story from their bio page using site email which they are too stupid to realize that they say is inoperable for them in what they just sent you. Next you will often notice that rather than saying they are from the U.S., they will often cite their home as Canada, England, or sometimes a nation like Switzerland or Germany. You will notice though that the email address provided is usually yahoo or MSN, and not yahoo.ca or anything denoting the country they claim to be from or working in.
The scam is they want you to contact them directly because they want your email address. it is a phising scam of sorts. They are guessing you will provide the same email to them you may use for financial and personal transactions. Email accounts are sadly all too easy to hack and if they can get just one of every twenty that reply to them to provide just a shred of information the next thing you know they have bank account information, paypal records possibly, or perhaps even information you would prefer not be out in the open. Even something like a website subscription receipt can arm them with enough information to rip you off as they can then log into your account and gain access to your vital info that way.
Another way to spot a scam is when you get to the email exchange. Although there are men doing this, women (or men posing as women) will often begin intimating money problems very soon after you begin the email exchange. They want you, or anyone to wire them money via a paypal account. Sometimes it is to pay a bill, or they want to visit you, but dang nab it, they just don’t have the money to get there. If you were willing to wire them the money they could be with you in a matter of a few days. Stop the presses right away. It’s a scam!
Sure this honestly happens every blue moon, but the vast majority of the time you are being played. The scam goes as such; you notice the name on the paypal account you are supplied doesn’t match the gender of the person or the name they have told you is really theirs. The smarter scammers will avoid this issue altogether by saying they can’t get a paypal account for some reason so you need to Western Union the money. This is popular because they can give you the name they are using and then tell you to supply a code word to go with it to verify the identity of the person picking the money up. This way they can get the money without an ID. Others will tell you to send it to a different name altogether claiming their brother, roommate, friend will pick it up for them. They remain completely anonymous and Western Union only keeps records for 90 days making for a quick cold trail if you try to find them.
What else can you look for? Look for vital statistics at the top of the profile that don’t match the info provided in the bio section. Compare the information supplied in emails with that which is in the bio as well as many scammers forget what they have lied about to each individual person and are often running many accounts at once. Be leery of anyone that has to have all contact with you off the site in which you met. Also check the grammar and quality of the biography they supply, often you will notice that a person claiming to be European will not use the spelling or phrases associated to than country. They may claim a very high level of education yet struggle to write a clear sentence.
Some great ways to avoid falling into their trap are easy to use. Ask that they post a photo of them self doing something you request. It need not be elaborate, maybe something easy like wear a yellow shirt and make the peace sign or hold up seven fingers. This way you can be sure the person in the photo first supplied is who you are talking to. If they refuse, make constant excuses why they cannot, or stop contact immediately it is almost sure to be a scam profile. Have a disposable email account under a fictitious name so if you feel you must contact someone off site you are protected. Play it smart an remember if it seems too good to be true it probably is.