By Tracey Duggan, April 14, 2020
Part One – Online Dating – Safety/Security
So, you are looking for that special someone, and in today’s world, online dating is the way to go. It seems like an easy process; just make an account in one of the million dating apps and put up a picture and voila!
There are a LOT of risks associated with online dating
Online dating has become a big business, but there are a LOT of risks associated with it. All of the dating websites have a disclaimer and it is to protect them
and to make you more aware of the predators that can and DO gain access to the website.
I have recently had villagers talk to me about their experiences of being scammed by online dating. They feel embarrassed, deceived, and it has taken a devastating toll on their quality of life.
In the criminal world, these scams are considered confidence scams; yeah, they manipulate your confidence.
First flag- they want to take the conversation off the dating site!
Initially you create an account, get online and you start getting hits from everywhere.
I am single, I have done this and can speak from experience. You get a hit from a really good-looking guy (or girl) and they have a few photos (very good quality photos). These photos might look like they are or were in the military overseas, or on a yacht, or somewhere beautiful. Many times, there will be children in the photos. They reach out to you and immediately tell you their email or phone number or ask that you download yahoo messenger or any other myriad of messaging applications. This is your FIRST flag. At this point alarm bells should be going off. They will tell you their account is about to expire, or they are having issues with the application or several other excuses. Don’t bite! If they really want to have a relationship with you, they will continue to chat with you on the dating application.
Second flag- they are physically unreachable
The SECOND flag is they will tell you they are working overseas, or are out of town or anywhere that is unreachable to you. This is important to remember. Many times, they will tell you they are on an oil rig, diamond mining, stationed overseas with the military or any other “big business adventure”. When they tell you this, they are setting you up for the long haul.
Another thing they like to do is tell you are they are a single parent and their spouse will have died from cancer, car accident, anything that is going to pull at your heartstrings.
The way around some of these things is to sit back and think. Many times, they will tell you they are from your local area, so ASK questions. For example, if they tell you they are from Hot Springs, ask them what their favorite bathhouse is. They won’t be able to tell you, because they have no clue what you will be talking about. Find out something about the area they say they are from here in the United States. If they say they are from Florida ask them about the theme parks there, or the beaches. You will stump them.
Third flag- poor mastery of the English language
Also, watch for their grammar. Often, they will not use the proper capitalization of i. They will shorten words such as instead of though it will be tho. These are people who are telling you they make big money and work for a large firm or the military and they can’t even spell or have incorrect grammar. This should be
your THIRD flag.
Fourth flag- their excuse for a foreign accent is they were born overseas
If you do end up talking to them, they will have an accent. They will tell you they were born overseas, or their parents were born overseas. This should be the FOURTH flag.
Fifth flag- stolen pictures and videos
These people have become very clever. They will ask you to Skype if they feel like they haven’t won your confidence yet. The video will be grainy and the words won’t match the mouth. They have become very advanced in using technology and they will just say it is because of the internet connection. NO, it is NOT! It is because when they set up their initial profile, they stole pictures and videos from an unknowing person. They use these repeatedly.
When one of these bad actors sends you a photograph you need to go online to www.tineye.com or images.google.com and upload the photo into these programs. Do not screenshot, actually upload the photo. A lot of the time it will pull up all sorts of instances the photo has been used and will link you to others who have been scammed by this same photo. The person you have been talking to is NOT the person in the photo. I PROMISE YOU!!! This is your FIFTH flag and by now you should have come to your senses.
If you haven’t heeded the above advice- be careful if you meet and only do so in a public place
If you are still talking to them after not heeding the advice above you need to tell them you want to meet. This is where the rubber meets the road people. If they will not meet you (in a public place of course), or come up with a bunch of excuses, or claim they have the plane ticket and then at the last minute they have to go to the hospital, or some other insane emergency, you need to cut your ties. Sometimes this “emergency” is where they start to manipulate you for money. Many times, it will be much earlier in this “game” they are playing.
Dating sites look for these scammers
As the above is happening, if you are still on the dating app (yes followed my advice), they suddenly disappear. This isn’t because of YOU. This is because the website has figured out there is a scammer on there and booted them off. Their profiles will be gone, poof! This is why they didn’t want to stay on the dating application, they knew the website algorithms would detect they didn’t belong. You have just saved yourself from heartache, losing considerable amounts of cash and didn’t become a money mule for these thugs.
If you have a story or would like to reach out, I will be doing a series of dating scams and then move on and do more with other types of scams.
Part Two will be “Who and Where They Are.” Part Three will be “Resources for Help.”
Editors note: Thank you for reading. Please be careful when contacting strangers you have met on the internet. Also, be sure to bookmark this website so you don’t miss any updates.