Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams
Over the past few years, the public’s attitude toward online dating has become increasingly positive. According to a 2013 Pew study of Online Dating and Relationships, 1 in 10 Americans have tried online dating themselves, and 29% of us know someone who has found a spouse or long-term partner via online dating.
As online dating becomes more and more common, so do scammers and other potentially harmful situations. The search for your soul mate can be emotionally-charged, so it’s important to establish some boundaries. The FTC provides the following tips and warning signs to be mindful of when meeting someone, especially if you met them online:
- Be appropriately suspicious if information in their profile or their picture seems “off”
- Don’t give out your personal contact information or address early on
- When you meet in person, meet in a public place, and be careful of your personal items and information
Signs of a Potential Scam Artist
- Wants to immediately use personal email or IM to communicate instead of the dating site
- Details about their profile seem “off” – wedding ring, height-to-weight ratio, photo looks too good to be true
- Quickly falls in love or gets serious very soon
- Inconsistent/ awkward grammar and phrasing
- Claims to be from the U.S. but is currently traveling, working overseas, or in the military
- Plans a visit but is suddenly prevented by a traumatic event
Common Online Dating Scam Scenarios
These scenarios are major red flag warnings indicating you may be dealing with a fraudster. If you are asked to do any of the following, simply DON'T.
- Wire money or debit card to help with travel, hotel, visa, robbery, medical, hospital, or other financial emergencies – you will ultimately suffer the loss and possibly never get your money back.
- Make an online purchase and/ or forward a package to another country as a favor.
- Deposit money, checks, or any other currency into your bank account as a favor for them – if the funds are fraudulent, you will ultimately suffer the loss and possibly owe your bank money if the check returns.
- Open a bank account with joint access, or even grant the person online banking or mobile banking access - the fraudster often uses Mobile Check Deposit to deposit fraudulent checks or stolen money. The funds are quickly transferred out of the account before the check bounces, leaving the victim with a large debt to the bank.
What to Do
If you suspect something is "off" about the situation, PROTECT YOURSELF, and DO NOT BE A VICTIM.
- Terminate the relationship immediately.
- Retain any communication such as email conversations or instant messages.
The FTC recommends reporting relationship scams to: