How to avoid romance scams in online dating

Mar 10 | By Chris

Online dating is a convenient service, but it has its risks. One of these risks is encountering people who run romance scams. According to the FBI, romance scammers are “[criminals who adopt] a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust” and eventually ask for money using different excuses.


Unfortunately, romance scammers often prey on members of dating platforms like Sister Wives. We are taking proper measures to stop these con artists, but scammers are finding new ways to bypass security measures.


That’s why we’ve prepared a deep dive here on what romance scams are, warning signs of a romance scam, and how to avoid them. Your safety is one of our top priorities as a dating service, so let’s review together what we can do to stop romance scammers.


Different types of romance scams


Deception is the heart of these dishonorable schemes. The perpetrator’s game plan is to trick you into a vulnerable position, whether that’s gaining access to your online accounts or blackmailing you into sending money.


Money mules


Some victims have reported money laundering scams where a criminal gains access to their bank accounts to move dirty money. The funds can be moved through various means like gift cards, cryptocurrency, and money orders.


Fake checks


Scammers can also ask you to cash a check because they claim that they don’t have access to their banking accounts. They may ask you to wire that money before it clears, and you may be left penniless when the check bounces.


Cryptocurrency investment


Newer approaches to romance scams include asking victims to invest in cryptocurrency. Someone might also ask you to send money via cryptocurrency if they are trying to launder large amounts of capital without dealing with banks.


Gift cards


Gift cards are a common way romance scammers make or move money. They may ask you to reload or buy them gift cards, citing excuses like their checking account is frozen or they lost their wallet.


Personal information compromised and stolen


More malicious scams include sending malware through dating apps or services. When you open the message or link, it might compromise your device, leaving your personal information exposed.


Another common scheme is when romance scammers send you an email or text message asking you to verify your information on the dating site. It is not actually sent by the dating service, but by someone trying to steal your data.


When you open the message or link, it will ask you for sensitive information such as your social security number or credit card security code.


Sextortion scams


Sextortion happens when a person uses compromising pictures or videos of you to extort you for money. To avoid revealing their face, scammers might say that their camera is not working all the while encouraging you to pose or perform sexually suggestive acts with the intent of blackmailing you afterwards.


Immigration scams


If you are messaging someone who claims to be from another country, they might ask you for money to pay off their visa, plane ticket, or customs fees to visit you. They take advantage of your emotions and emphasize that they would love to see you in person, but they cannot afford it.


Online dating red flags that can indicate someone is dangerous


One warning sign to be wary of is when someone immediately wants to meet you in person. However, romance scammers usually try to avoid meeting in person unless it’s part of their strategy. Consider these other atypical behaviors that let you know when someone has bad intentions.


They claim to be in a certain profession


Romance scammers adopt fake personas when they sign up for dating sites.  One way to spot a liar is if they can’t or won’t provide you with more details when you ask them about their work.


● Construction or building industry worker

● Soldier

● Doctor who travels internationally

Worker on an oil platform


These professions often work outside of their home country, so it’s easy for scammers to pretend that they can’t meet you.


They suddenly have an emergency and they need your financial help


In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission reported that consumers lost $547 million to romance scams, the highest it’s ever been. This is also the largest figure in any of the fraud categories including identity theft, credit scams, and false lotteries.


On average, a person over 70 years old lost about $9,000 while someone aged 18 to 29 years old lost about $750. It may seem unbelievable, but sadly, romance scammers are expert manipulators.


Romance scammers will try to gain your trust first before asking for any money. Then they might claim any of the following reasons for needing your financial help:


● Medical emergency fees

● Legal fees

● They lost their debit card, so they need a gift card

● They came across a good investment opportunity

● Money for a flight

● They need to pay taxes for items in customs

● They need money to pay off their college degree before they can meet you

● They need you to cash a check and wire them the money

● Gambling debt


They want to know every single detail about you


This can be a sign of a stalker, someone too eager, or someone trying to pull an identity theft heist. You may be answering their questions left and right, but they never give you a chance to ask you about them.


In fact, they might not reveal anything personal about themselves at all — a huge red flag. This is also a tactic that romance scammers use to make their interest in your budding relationship seem genuine. They want to appear charming and engaged.


They want to meet you immediately without getting to know each other first


In a similar vein, they want to meet you ASAP when you haven’t established what relationship you’re looking for yet. Moreover, they might be insisting that you pay for their roundtrip flights and other travel fees (via money transfer) so they can meet you.


They pressure you to send pictures or videos you don’t feel comfortable sharing


A romance scammer may ask you for explicit content repeatedly even after you’ve declined. They may even try to guilt you into meeting their demands by saying they sent you pictures and videos (that you didn’t ask for), so why shouldn’t you?


This pressure is called sexual harassment and is also a form of sextortion and sextortion scams. You can also perform a reverse search image on any pictures they send to verify that it is not a stock photo or a photo of another person.


Best practices when online dating


Here are some tried-and-true tips for online dating safety.


Don’t share too much information at first


If someone’s nagging you for extremely personal information during the early days, stop there. This can be interpreted as endearing, but it can also indicate that they are trying to gather intelligence on you.


On the Sister Wives platform, we discourage members from sharing outside profile links partly for safety reasons such as this. This is a list of things you should keep private until you get to know this person better.


● Company address/company name/ your position within the company

● Home address/neighborhood

● Family information, e.g. your parents’ names, your children’s names


Don’t move to SMS text immediately


If you meet someone on a dating site or app, stay on the platform. Don’t rush to exchange numbers until you’ve vetted them through video call or met them in person. When they have your phone number, they might be able to extract other information about you online like your address or full name.


Staying on the platform also leaves a paper trail in case of suspicious behavior. Always report harassment or other questionable behavior so that person can be suspended or banned from the app/service.


What is Sister Wives doing to protect its users?


Sister Wives is actively stopping romance scammers on its platforms. Romance scams are at an all-time high, and we want to make sure your dating experience is not sullied by these criminals.


That’s why we monitor for fake profiles and we flag and block IP addresses and entire IP ranges.


What to do if you are involved in a romance scam


If you fall victim to a romance scammer, don’t feel guilty or foolish. These con artists take advantage of people who are looking for real connections with genuine human beings.


Report them to the Federal Trade Commission


If there is a substantial amount of money involved — and even if there isn’t — you can contact the right authorities. You can file a report online here.


If you are on Sister Wives or another dating service, report the profile


You can block other members on Sister Wives and most dating services or aps. If you suspect that someone is a scammer on our platforms, you can send us an email here on sisterwives.com.


Freeze your accounts, change your cards, contact the right companies


If you gave them access to your bank account or another card, contact the company and let them know you want to change your account information. Change your security passwords.


If you paid someone through a gift card, tell the company what happened, and they may be able to refund you. If not, you can file a claim to the FTC.


For more information on dating safety, take a look at our article on how to spot red flags when dating.






Published By: Christopher Alesich 

Matchmakers Inc: Sisterwives.com


Comments:

TheServantofGod
Mar 14
Awesome Article!
Chris
Mar 16
Thank You!
You need to sign in to comment

Related Articles

Password protected photo
Password protected photo
Password protected photo