An Introduction to Online Scamming
Scammers will try to find their victims on dating websites, apps or social media. They’ll specifically seek out people looking for love and pretend to be interested in them. Emotional manipulation is the way in which they’ll draw their victims into sending them money, presents and giving them access to personal details.
A study done in 2012 by Monica Whitty and Tom Buchanan (in collaboration with the Universities of Leicester and Westminster) shed more light on these scams and the responsibility of dating websites. They said that since 2007, about 230,000 people in the U.K. have been victims of fraud on dating sites. The study showed that even when victims sensed that something was off, they still sent the money that the scammer had requested. Those who ask for money are mostly members of a criminal organization. They create fake profiles and prey on innocent, single people. They concluded that dating websites should give information to their members about these types of dangers.
How Exactly Does It Work?
Online scammers will most likely create fake profiles with fictional names. These names may even be names of real people, in their country or abroad. Another name for this type of practice is ‘catfishing’.
In a short period of time, they will want to phone, e-mail or IM you. Scammers will express very strong feelings for you, very fast. They’ll often pretend that they’re from some western country, but currently abroad for work.
The ‘catfish’ will romance you, share personal information about themselves and they might even send you presents. They will spend months trying to seduce you and lie about booking flights to come see you. As soon as they’ve gained your trust, they will start asking for money, presents or your credit card information. Scammers will tell you that they need this money in order to help them with an emergency (illness or a failed business), or for plane tickets to come see you.
Beware when they start sending you laptops or smartphones and expect you to resend them somewhere else. They also may ask you to accept money in your bank account and afterwards transfer it to another account. The money you’ll end up spending on a scammer is impossible to recover and the emotional scars you’ll have will be tough to get rid of.
Tips to Protect Yourself
- Keep the warning signs mentioned in this article in the back of your mind while dating online. Don’t let them bully you into sharing personal information or starting a relationship too soon.
- Search for their picture online, their name and do a general yet thorough internet search.
- Watch out for spelling mistakes, strange stories and you never being able to see them on video.
- Beware for requests for money and don’t give out your personal information (bank accounts, documents, etc.) to anyone.
- Don’t ever agree to transfer money for anyone you’re talking to online.
Two Ways Dating Websites Help Protect You
- Proving the ID of the member: the most trustworthy dating websites require a paid membership. This means that the member is providing the website with their credit card information and are automatically identifiable. Online dating websites like Match and Zoosk are part of organizations like the Online Dating Association. Their mission is to eliminate all online dating scams.
- There are certain features on these dating websites that relate to security. Zoosk for example has a photo verification system, with which a member will have their profile picture verified. Match on the other hand use a different technique that consists of phoning members through ‘MatchTalk’. They’ll talk to each other without revealing their real phone number and if things went left, it’s less of a concern.