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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


Practicing basic dating safety conduct can save your life. In October 2021, personality Geoffrey Paschel from the fourth season of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting his ex-fiancée Kristen Wilson in 2019.


He appeared on the show in 2020 with another woman, his current fiancée Varya Malina. The victim, Wilson, sustained a concussion, bruises, and cuts during the attack. Paschel has a history of drug charges, and this past helped cement his ruling in February 202 — 18 years without parole.


This is a very public case of dating violence, and not every case meets a just closure. Moreover, dating violence doesn’t just occur far into a relationship — it can happen on a first date.


Be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of a toxic or violent person. Educate yourself on what the red flags are for dating violence. Implement distress call protocols to save yourself in case you need to escape a date. These are just a few things that can help keep you out of harm’s way when dating.


How to stay safe on a first date


So you’ve chatted with someone for a couple of weeks. Now it’s time to meet them in person.


Meet somewhere other than your home


When choosing a place to rendezvous, always meet somewhere other than your place. Better yet, meet in a different neighborhood or city. This way, if you sense weird energy from your date, they can’t appear uninvited at your front door even if you’ve told them you are not interested.


It’s also a practical idea to always have your ride figured out before a date. You don’t want to be stuck with them if the date goes bad. You definitely don’t want to rely on them to get you home if they are acting strange, either.


Always let someone know where you are and who you are with


There’s a few systems you can use to make sure someone knows your whereabouts and can get to you if the date becomes dangerous.


● Download apps that make you check in at a designated time like uSafeUs and SafeDate.

● You can let a friend know you are on a date; if you don’t respond by X time, tell them to call you or check your location.

● Have a code word or phrase ready with your designated safe contact in case you need to signal for help discreetly through a phone call or text.

● Share your location on your phone with family and friends. This feature is available on both Android (Google Maps) and Apple phones (Find My app).


Choose your first date meeting point


One way to gain more control of the date is by picking the bar, restaurant, Movie Theater, etc. It can be a place you know well, where you’re familiar with the staff. You might also know the entrances and exits by heart.


Be ready to leave and don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings


If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be that person who stays because they don’t want to be rude. However, you can excuse yourself to use the restroom and leave or wait until they use the restroom if you want to avoid confrontation.


Ghosting is a common dating phenomenon, but this is not a case of ghosting. This is ensuring your personal safety.


Always be in control when drinking or taking substances


Being under the influence can be great if you’re around people who you trust 100%. However, not all of us can remain cordial.


Attentively coherent when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


You know yourself best: Abstaining from substances that you know you can’t tolerate helps to ensure you can make a rational decision if needed. This can also prevent dating violence like sexual assault.


First date red flags


Besides establishing dating safety practices, you also need to be vigilant about your date. It is unfortunate that some aspects of dating feel so dangerous, but it is the reality of modern dating.


They want to leave the venue and go back to their place immediately


If your date keeps trying to goad you to their place before your entrée has even been served, leave.


They don’t respect your personal space


Your update may be overly affectionate by putting their arm around you, touching you inappropriately, or going in for an unwanted kiss. Stand firm and protect your boundaries — anyone who tries to invade your personal space and disregard your consent is not worth your time.


They are nagging you


This is a phenomenon mostly applicable to men. It happens when a man is constantly giving you backhanded compliments that are giving you mixed signals. In reality, they are trying to erode your self-esteem to not only make themselves feel superior, but to make you want to seek validation from them.


Here are some examples someone might say on a date:


● Nice dress! With your physique, it shouldn’t look flattering, but it somehow looks good.

● You graduated in Civil Engineering? I’m impressed. You must have had really good tutors helping you!

● You run five miles a day? Well, I’ve been running marathons for years now, it’s pretty easy.


Nagging comes in the form of backhanded compliments, unnecessary comparisons, trump stories, and fake advice or constructive criticism.


They insist on meeting at a specific spot with no compromise


This person has no regard for your feelings or safety. They might even be planning something nefarious if they insist on meeting at a certain place you are uncomfortable traveling to.


They keep getting caught in lies


If their stories are suddenly not matching with what they’ve previously told you, they may not be who they say they are. You can confront them about it if you feel comfortable, but if you sense that they are impulsive or dangerous, try to carefully remove yourself from the situation.


They’re excessively trash-talking their ex, colleagues, family, etc.


This is a sign that they are emotionally abusive. Equally worse, it’s a sign that they can’t form healthy relationships with anybody in their lives. You don’t want to get caught up in this toxic person’s web.


They are love bombing you


This is a huge red flag to watch out for. If your date brought flowers, jewelry, and chocolates to the first date, something is up. They might also constantly bombard you with lovey dovey text messages that don’t reflect your relationship at all.


In fact, you may have only spoken through a video call once before meeting in person. This is a common tactic for abusive partners. It’s a way of luring in victims and a way to “apologize” for their behavior when it inevitably turns ugly.


They are challenging everything you’re saying


Someone who can’t have a conversation without blowing up when you disagree on a subject is usually someone with anger management issues. Whether it’s conflicting views on something small like what dish to order or something more personal like political views, civil, calm discussion should be the norm, not loud altercations.


New relationship red flags


At the start of a new relationship, it can be easy to excuse (or completely miss) toxic behavior. The alarm bells in your head may be drowned out by feelings of new relationship energy, or that honeymoon phase. Nevertheless, if you know what to look for, it can be easier to think clearly.


They don’t value your time, opinions, and boundaries


Some abusers start with small, barely noticeable violations like guilting you into doing things you don’t want to do just so your partner doesn’t become upset. This can turn into something more serious in time.


They threaten you


If someone uses fear to control you, you are experiencing dating violence and abuse. They might yell at you or use physical force to get their way, which are both unacceptable.


They make all your decisions for you


During the early stages of dating, your partner may assert control over little things. For instance, they might order your food for you or make plants that include you without checking in with you first.


Eventually, these little things graduate into bigger decisions. Either way, your partner might make you feel guilty if you question these decisions.


They refuse to use/let you use of birth control


If you are a male with a female partner and they claim they are using a contraceptive but then later reveal they are not, it’s time to break up. Conversely, if you are female and your partner is male, they should support whatever contraceptive you choose.


If they insist on ditching a condom using the excuse that sex feels different with it on, then they can find someone else. These are instances of reproductive coercion and are considered intimate partner violence.


They isolate you from family and friends


When a person doesn’t let you see your circle, they are trying to control you. This is a sign of dating violence which can be disguised as a loving partner who wants to spend all their time with you.


More often than not, though, this controlling behavior is violent and victims are often physically forced to stay with their partner.


They pressure you to do things you don’t want to


Drugs, alcohol, sexual favors — if your new significant other is forcing you into something, it’s a sign of an abusive relationship. Perpetrators like Geoffrey Paschel use manipulation, intimidation, and physical force to get what they want.


If you notice this behavior early on, follow your instinct and cut ties with your new partner.


Besides dating safety, there are many ways to keep yourself safe when online dating. Unfortunately, dating services and apps are almost always dealing with dating scammers. Learn about the red flags in online poly dating, specifically, which is ripe with financial scammers and fake profiles.








Published By: Christopher Alesich 

Matchmakers Inc: Sisterwives.com


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