Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to Protect Yourself Against Online Dating Scams

Edward S. Brown, M.S.

Online dating is attracting more and more singles.  In fact, 11% of American adults—and 38% of those who are currently “single and looking” for a partner—have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps (Smith and Duggan, 2013).  Both women and men have testified to its success, in terms of finding relationships.  This claim could actually be true, since one-third of married couples in the U.S. met online according to NY Daily News (2013).

But the internet is full of scams.  A woman in Indiana learned this the hard way, after losing over $150,000 to an online scammer whom she'd thought was a local man falling in love with her (Abel, 2014).

The increasing popularity of online dating services is not only good news for those who are looking for second chances at love.  It is also good news for scammers.  Scammers use dating sites to target unsuspecting users.  Various dating sites provide warning signs to their users against scammers and those who are opportunistic. 

Online dating sites usually have filters that separate scammers from those who are real users.  Unfortunately, these sites can’t always spot all scammers.  Most of the sites rely on their members and users for reporting cases of suspicious users.  Also, scammers often ask for your instant messaging or regular email.  They attempt to lure you away from the site, so the site administrators would not notice them. 

It is very easy to create a fake identity and personal information.  They can even steal other people’s identify and or account and use it to their benefit.  There are different signs, if the person you are talking to online, is a possible scammer. 

These signs include:

• Communication is very difficult.  They tend to repeat what they say and make statements very difficult to understand and frequently commit spelling and grammar mistakes.  

• The photos show that the person you are talking to, looks like a model.  Upon checking other profile photos, they look like they were cropped from some Internet site.  The scammer may have used other peoples’ pictures.  Or they may even post a picture which is dark or blurred.  

• They do not provide any home or personal address.  All they provide is a post office address and even a phone number, which they never answer or don’t have a voicemail.  

• They don’t answer your questions.  But they willingly discuss things about themselves.  They may use prefabricated emails and send them to targeted people to scam.  

• They share sob and sad stories.  In the end, they ask for help and profess that you are the only person who can assist them with a problem. Generally, after helping them by sending money, you will not hear from them nor be able to contact them again. 

Not all scammers show their true colors immediately.  For some, it takes months or sometimes years, before they start abusing or asking for money.  Reporting the case to administrators is important, to protect their sites and other users.  Never send money or continue with any kind of correspondence when they have already shown a propensity for fraud.

For more information for protecting yourself against online dating fraud, visit:


Abel, J. (2014 July 24). Woman loses $150,000 in online dating scam. Consumers Unified. Retrieved from:

NY Daily News. (2013 June 4). One-third of married couples in U.S. meet online: study. Retrieved from:

Smith, A. and Duggan, M. (2013 Oct. 21). Online dating & relationships. Pew Research Internet Project. Retrieved from:

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