There have been multitudes of people who have fallen prey to online dating scams primarily because of unscrupulous individuals who have nothing good to do with their time but take advantage of those looking for potential partners of long-term relationships from legitimate online dating websites. For many of these victims, they have no idea or clue what happened or how it started, until they come face to face with the realization that they have been duped.
It is unfortunate that many of the victims feel like they are stupid because they are not entirely responsible for what has happened and have not invited the attack consciously. It is important to realize that the Sweetheart Scam is becoming one of the most popular being run on the Internet primarily because it focuses on the vulnerability of those looking for love online. All is not lost though as there are some steps that you can take to help avoid online dating scams.
If possible, avoid long-distance relationships.
The possibility may be quite tempting and hard to turn down; however, you must realize that the farther the physical distance, the more risks you take of being victimized by unscrupulous individuals. As much as possible, try to keep your relationship local or to neighboring states at the most.
By having a local relationship, you dramatically lower the odds of being victimized by a scam primarily because majority of scammers target victims that are far from their areas to limit the possibilities of being caught or prosecuted. This is a very simple, but effective measure to continuously protect yourself online.
Avoid revealing personal information.
When it comes to online dating scams, one of the contributory factors is the exposure of your personal information. The information is commonly used by scammers to do background checks on you and try to establish a pattern of habit online. When chatting with someone online, remember to never share any personal information unless you have already personally met up with him and have developed a certain degree of trust.
The prospects of sharing personal information can be very tempting at times, especially with someone who has a very good way with words. Keep in mind that these scammers specialize in making you feeling special and lulling you to a false sense of security to make you open up to them. Never forget that the goal of scammers is to make you think that you are in love so that every detail of your life will be known to them.
Language can be a giveaway.
Some online daters take this for granted, but, paying attention to the language can actually reveal a lot of things about the anonymous person on the other end. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Interpol, majority of online scammers operate from West Africa as well as the former Soviet republics. This means that majority of them are not very adept with the English language.
If you see that their command of the English language is questionable or fuzzy at the least, this should already be a warning sign for you. Keep in mind though that some may have already developed a certain degree of command of the written English language. This is why once you find someone interesting or if someone shows interest in you, try to have a voice chat with them. If they have too many excuses or refuse outright, this should be another red flag.
Search engines can be your friend.
You should realize the immense power of the Internet in terms of doing background checks. Once a suitor has emerged from your online friends; use search engines to verify their identities. Always be wary of people who seem to be too good to be true, because most of the time they actually are.
Remember that with online dating scams, most of the time Sweetheart or Romance Scams are used to dupe unwary members of the online dating website. If you receive a romantic email, try to paste it into different search engines to see if there are any duplicates. You may be surprised that the email you received is the topic of some forum of people who have been victimized. Maximize the potentials of the Internet to your advantage.
It is important to know that there are some resources on the internet that will allow you to search and compare pictures. For example, you can upload a picture and the website will return results where the picture has been previously posted on the Internet. You must realize that majority of scammers copy pictures from various social networking websites and assume the personality of the real owner.
Do not be surprised if the picture of your online suitor belongs to another person residing in another country. In most instances, these scammers scan accounts on popular social networking websites and look for seldom used accounts and swipe their pictures. Then they take the information of another account holder and merge the personalities of the two to create a new character.
Paid dating websites are less risky.
According to Internet experts, the possibility of being victimized by online dating scams is less likely when you subscribe to paid online dating websites. One reason is that scammers usually invest only time but never money. This means that they are willing to slowly reel in a victim even if it takes years, but seldom will they risk money like paying for membership registration to websites.
Another reason is that with paid websites, normally members are not asked to pay for cash, but rather, use credit cards to settle their accounts. When there are credit cards, there is a file and a trail that can be followed to the scammer. This is something that these unscrupulous individuals actively avoid, which is why they usually stay out of paid online dating websites. Remember though that this does not mean that they are completely free of scammers, it is only that there are fewer predators.
By being on online dating websites, being suspicious of every character you meet can be your best protection. It would be unfair to generalize that the online dating scams are perpetrated by the operators, because when you look at it, they also lose money when members are victimized.