You might think it’s easy to spot a scammer in an online dating app. But the data indicates that online dating scams increased by 50% last year. It’s not hard to imagine that the impacts of COVID lockdowns can cause people to be emotionally vulnerable.
A Valentines Day PSA
The median loss per reported scam, according to the FTC, was about $2,500. Sadly, for those over 70 years of age, the median was over $9,000.
While we all tend to objectively think we are smart enough to avoid being scammed by a potential romantic partner, it’s really the emotional nature of the situations involved that make it very lucrative for attackers who have no qualms about exploiting whomever they can.
Beware of these warning signs before you get too emotionally involved
Here are some tips on how romance scammers work, and how to spot them:
1- Simple profiles. Scammers usually don’t use fancy things like video, because it slows them down and is inefficient. Most scams are run by a group of people, and they don’t have time to do sophisticated or elaborate profiles if they don’t have to in order to be successful. If you only ever see images of a very attractive person, but they have boring layouts, and resist sharing more spontaneous images or videos, that can be a signal to be careful.
2- Financial “interests”. It can be enticing to connect with somebody who appears to have a lot of money. It’s natural to assume they just want to share their secrets on how to make money. But scammers use variations on this theme to make it look like they are doing you a favor by giving you tips on investing. Eventually, they may suggest an app or website service that does online investing. Then, they can get you to invest money that doesn’t really get invested. It goes into their bank account.
3- Pressure to send private photos or videos. Once things get intimate, it’s easy for a scammer to use things you’ve shared privately with you to then threaten you with going public or sending images to your friends, relatives or co-workers unless you pay them.
Go very slowly and be open about your need for transparency. Don’t accept that you need to “blindly trust” somebody you just met online.
Have a cyber safe Valentines Day.