For those not in relationships, Valentine’s Day can be lonely. Dating apps and online dating seem like an easy and convenient way to find a relationship but beware, dangers are present. Scammers are more prevalent than ever in online dating, looking to steal your money or information. Knowing how to spot dating scammers is important, so here are some of the tell-tale signs of what to look for!
Beware of Bots
“Dating-app bots,” as they are now called, are common on popular dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. These bots are fake profiles run by computer programs. The purpose of these bots is usually to extort money or personal information from you, so it is integral that you always have your guard up. A good rule of thumb is if someone’s dating profile seems too good to be true, it usually isn’t true.
It can be easy to spot dating-app bots. Be suspicious if a match uses non-individualized approaches or if their responses are off-topic. Another red flag is if your match asks for money or some sort of financial assistance. There are several easy tests to discern if your match is a bot or not:
- Use sarcasm. Bots are unable to understand sarcasm.
- Write an interjection, such as “hmmm.” Bots do not know how to respond to interjections.
- Ask difficult or weird questions to see if it responds on-topic.
By using these tests and staying aware, you’ll be sure that your online spark is real and not with a pesky bot!
Beware of Scammers
Let’s say you have a match, and you can tell it is not a bot. Congrats! Unfortunately, you still have to be aware of scammers. Oftentimes, people will set up fake or misleading profiles in another attempt to steal your money. The Federal Trade Commission reported $547 million in losses to romance scams in 2021. While “real-life” dating scammers are harder to spot than bots, there are still signs you can look for to ensure you keep your personal information and money safe.
If your match is refusing to meet in person, on a video call, or is constantly rescheduling your plans together, be wary. Scammers often will refuse to meet up, usually because they don’t look like the photos on their profile. Romance scammers will likely use someone else’s photos to lure you in. If you have any doubts about the photo being real, you can use a reverse image search to discern if the person you matched with pulled the photo from the internet.
Another potential sign that you are matched with a scammer is if they ask you for money. Never send money to a match on an online dating site, especially if you have never met the person in real life. Another related sign is that the scammer will tell you specifically how to send them the requested money. Popular methods for receiving extorted money include gift cards, cryptocurrency, and money transfer apps like Venmo.
What To Do If You Match with A Scammer
If you believe your match is some type of romance scammer, break off contact immediately and unmatch if you have the option to do so.
If you have given money to a scammer, contact your bank right away. You may be able to get some or all of your money back. Additionally, ensure that you haven’t given the scammer any sensitive information, such as your Social Security or credit card number.
It is important to note that local police will be unable to help if you get scammed, as they are not equipped to track or find scammers.
How to Report Scammers
You have numerous options to report a romance scammer. The first and most effective is to report the profile to the online dating site you are using. They will be able to ban the user and prevent others from being scammed.
Written by Will Chamblee, TDS Communications Intern