How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

When it comes to online dating, there are unfortunately people out who take advantage of the opportunity to contact innocent people and try to make them a victim of their scam. You might be on a dating website looking for someone special, but there are certain individuals out there looking for a different reason. It is important that you are aware of the internet dating scams that circulate as well as recognise some of the common signs of a scammer. A scammer is the individual who will contact you with the aim of conning you, usually out of money. Without realising, many people become victims of internet scams each year, so it is vital that you understand the different types of internet dating scams, which we have outlined below.

The Travel Scam

Once a scammer has befriended you on a dating website, they will suggest meeting up. Only then do they inform you that they are currently living overseas and really want to visit you, but they can't afford it. Having gained your friendship and trust, they will ask for your help to pay for their travel expenses to visit you. Many people feel this is a legitimate reason to send money, and agree to make the payment only to never meet their so-called friend and never see their money again or hear from the scammer.

The Prostitute Scam

Prostitutes see dating websites as an easy way to advertise their services. They are usually quite easy to recognise as they often use sleazy usernames and explicit descriptions. These people are out to make money, so don't be fooled into thinking they might be after a relationship or a date.

The Phone Scam

This scam involves you being given a phone number by someone who has befriended you, a scammer. They will claim the phone number is theirs and will ask if you would like to talk to them in person. If you agree to talk to them personally, they will ask you to ring the phone number they have given you. All you will gain out of the situation, is a large phone bill.

The Postal Scam

This scam has been around for quite a while now and comes in a several different varieties; although they all have the same purpose of obtaining your money. The most common postal scam is the Nigerian 419 scam, also known as Advanced Free Fraud or AFF. Again it involves you being befriended by someone on a dating website who claim to live in the UK but work abroad. They might claim to work in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and other countries in western Africa. They will ask you to send them some money, giving you a plausible reason why they need it, making out that you are the only person who can help. Taking advantage of your good nature, they will make you feel that you would be saving the day if you send money. This is the point where many innocent people have become a victim to this scam, and have sent money. Once money has been sent, you will usually never hear from the scammer again, or there is a chance you will be asked for more money.

Who are scammers?

A scammer can be an individual person, or even a group of people who are not legitimate members of the online dating website you are using. Once they have created a false profile, often similar to your perfect match, they will befriend you and tell you things to make you like and trust them. Once you are in contact with them, they will wait until it appears you have let your guard down, and that is when they introduce their scam to you. Having said that, some scammers start their scam right from the very first message, without befriending you first, in the hope that at least one person will believe them. Some people see right through the scam and end all communication, but some people unfortunately believe them and become a victim without realising. Their aim is to obtain money from you, and will usually tell you anything to try and make that happen.

Signs of being in contact with a scammer

It is often blatantly obvious when a scammer has contacted you, but sometimes it is not so easy to tell. Here is a list of the most common signs to be aware of:

  • You might be asked to switch to using personal email or instant message system instead of the message system used on the dating website. By using personal email or instant message system, they will not be detected by the dating website.
  • Their profile picture will look professional and beautiful people will be used. This is to attract people to the profile giving scammers a larger number of people to befriend.
  • Their personal description may differ to the profile photo, plus it will be fairly vague.
  • Usernames and descriptions may be sleazy, especially if the prostitute scam is being used.
  • You will notice poor spelling and grammar, plus their text will not read well. They will use words not commonly used and sometimes what they say will make no sense at all. This is sometimes due to a computer being used to translate their language into English.
  • They will avoid answering your questions and will mainly talk about themselves, without revealing much information. This is due to their message being sent to more than one person and possibly because they might not understand the language.
  • You may notice conversations being repeated and conversations won't flow. Each new message from them will contain a new topic. Again this is due to the message being sent to numerous people.
  • They will claim to be falling in love with you, or even claim to be in love with you. They might send you poems that explain their feelings for you. Here is an example of a poem used;

    Sometimes I look up at the stars at night, Wishing that you were holding me tight. I hold back the tears before they slide down my cheek, Praying to God to keep me strong, not weak. I make a wish in the deepness of my heart, that soon we'll be together, not so far apart. I think of all the good times we have shared, I want you to know that I'll always care. I want you to hold me and never let me go, I miss you and love you, just thought I'd let you know.
  • Scammers wait online for a response, therefore they will reply quickly to your messages. Speedy responses every time you are online is an indication that they are not legitimate. People often arrange a time to be online together so communication is quicker, so it can be strange if they happen to be online every time you are, especially if you send messages at a variety of different times.
  • You may notice a change in the way their messages are written. This is because there is more than one person sending you the messages. A change in the spelling, grammar, and tone of the messages might be apparent.
  • Finally and most importantly is the mention of money. A scammer will ask you to send them money, giving a plausible reason. They will make out that you are the only person who can help them or make an offer that seems too good to miss.

What to do if you are in contact with a scammer

If you believe you are in contact with a scammer on Completely Free Dating, inform us immediately to us by sending an email to abuse@completelyfreedating.ie and stop communicating with them.

I have been the victim of a scam, what do I do?

Once a scammer has obtained money from you, they will either stay in contact with you and take full advantage of your kind nature and ask for more money, or you will never hear from them again. Unfortunately at that point you will have already been a victim of their cruel scam and there is little chance of ever recovering your money.

How safe am I using Completely Free Dating?

Here at Completely Free Dating we screen our members, unlike many other online dating services who allow everyone and anyone to join. Only people living in the Ireland and the UK are allowed to join Completely Free Dating. We prefer to have a database of genuine members, than a large database consisting of some false profiles. We do our best to remove scammers who attempt to join, but it is always possible for one to get through. If this does unfortunately happen here on Completely Free Dating, please report them immediately to abuse@completelyfreedating.ie.

To ensure you are safe using Completely Free Dating, make sure you take a look at our safety advice in our article How to stay safe with online dating. Although it is important to be aware of scammers and their scams, don't let them spoil your time using online dating websites. Many people use online dating websites successfully and never come across a scammer. As long as you are sensible and don't reveal any private information, and never ever send anyone any money, you will be perfectly safe using Completely Free Dating.