Mark Brooks of Online Personals Watch works with many online dating sites – and says that all of them are plagued by fake profiles, scammers and criminals looking for money, not love.
Millions are lost to these scammers each year – and worse still, the crime may be underestimated, as victims are often too distraught to reveal the extent of their losses.
Spotting scammers is getting harder – but there are still ways to ensure you stay safe, Brooks says.
Q: Is there an easy way to spot scammers from ‘normal’ daters? If scammers have made it onto a dating site, its because the profile looks normal. If they want you to get off the dating site asap – and communicate by email, say – that’s a sign. Older women, because its tough to find a hot older gentleman. Bear in mind that its the scammers job to get users off the site asap.
Even if they’ve been taken for tens of thousands of dollars.
They’re not going to get satisfaction legally or financially.
What they can do is suck up the scammers time and just reel them in in return. In fact, in the dating industry, some sites used to use ‘scammer hell.’ They’ll identify scammers and then put them into their own database where they just scam each other. If you hop on a plane to meet your lover, you might be placing yourself in physical danger.
We were men and women who happen to have the qualities of being open, compassionate, loving, and trusted those who we loved and we believed loved us.
They’ll pan for gold among tens of thousands to find a few pieces of gold. If they’re a different person than on their profile photo, bail! If the person has a Facebook profile with 10 friends, well that’s a dead giveaway as well. For example, we know people don’t use the word ‘wire’ in regular dating communications. Report to the local police and ask to be referred to their cyber crimes unit. The problem is, most of these scams are cross-border and it becomes tough to coordinate jurisdiction.
It used to be easy to just Google phrases – criminals often reused them – but now it is less so. Q: What should I do if I suspect someone IS a scammer? That’s a red flag and is usually picked up by dating sites auto-detection systems. But the scammers know better to use that word on dating sites now. Its exhausting, and most victims just want to put the entire event behind them.
All dating sites have to suppress and deal with fraud. Q: If you are creating your own profile, is there anything that might make you a target? They’re looking for some sign of gullibility among people who are likely to have some savings. People who are generous, vulnerable, of-faith and fighting poor odds of finding a partner are ideal. In general I recommend people chat for a short while, and then jump onto a video date anyway. I don’t think anyone should put more than half an hour of time into communication without doing a video or real life date. They want to get into direct email or Skype or phone contact asap.
So if your profile hints at any of those, you’re more of a target. Q: I’m already in a relationship online – can I be sure it’s for real? Some of these fake relationships can last for years. Q: My lover sends me gifts – surely that means he’s for real? They’ll send gifts, and make users feel beautiful and cared for, and then it them with a test. That way dating sites detection systems have less chance of picking up on unusual lines of communication.
Not the using, not the theft, not causing an innocent person to go to jail...