Online Dating Fraud: How To Not Fall Victim To Scammers

Scammers target on the vulnerabilities of those seeking connection, using deceptive tactics to manipulate emotions and extract money. 

Finding love online has become increasingly common. However, along with it, there lies a darker side – online dating fraud. 

Scammers target on the vulnerabilities of those seeking connection, using deceptive tactics to manipulate emotions and extract money. 

In this article, we’ll learn about online dating scams, and how to not fall victim for such frauds.

What is Online Dating Fraud?

Online dating fraud occurs when someone create fake profiles on dating websites or apps, portraying themselves as potential romantic partners. It is also known as Romance Scams.

They build rapport with victims, often through extensive communication, gaining their trust and affection. According to FBI, the scammer uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim. 

Once a connection is established, the scammer typically pretends to be in a crisis or urgent need for money, exploiting the victim’s emotions to dupe money from them.

In an incident in Pune, a 30-year-old man fell victim to an online dating scam, and lost Rs 22 lakh. The man connected with a woman online who claimed to be facing financial difficulties. Believing her story, the victim willingly transferred Rs 22 lakh to the woman’s account to help her. After some days, when he asked for his money back, the woman stopped responding and her phone showed switched off.

(YouTUBE)

According to a recent study conducted by McAfee, 39 percent of Indians have encountered scammers posing as potential love interests on dating platforms. The study, highlights the significant impact of these fraudulent activities on online dating.

Moreover, the research indicates that a 77% of respondents reported encountering fake profiles or photos that appeared to be generated by artificial intelligence (AI). 

These deceptive profiles, found on dating websites, apps, and social media platforms, contribute to the proliferation of online scams, undermining the trust and safety of users.

How They Work?

Aura outlined pattern online dating scams usually follow:

Creating a Fake Profile: Scammers make fake profiles using pictures they’ve taken from someone else’s social media. They pretend to be someone they’re not to trick people.

Rushing into a Relationship: Once they connect with you, scammers will act like they’re in love with you really quickly. They’ll use sweet words to make you feel special. Then, they’ll suggest moving to other messaging apps like Snapchat or WhatsApp.

Asking for Things: After gaining your trust, scammers will start asking for favors. They’ll make up stories about being in trouble and ask for money or personal information. They might even ask you to invest in something like cryptocurrency.

Avoiding In-Person Meetings: Scammers will avoid meeting you in person or video chatting. They might promise to meet up or even talk about marriage, but there’s always an excuse why they can’t do it.

Continuing the Scam: The scam goes on as long as they can keep getting something from you. Sometimes, they want personal info to steal your identity. Other times, they keep asking for money, trying to take as much as possible.

Here are some tips compiled from the FBI to help you avoid falling victim to romance scams:

  • Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
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Media Literacy Team
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