How to avoid online dating scams

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What is a dating scam?

An online dating scammer is someone who builds a relationship with you, pretending to be a genuine member then uses fraudulent claims to defraud you. Scammers and fraudsters will ask you for money, personal information such as email address or mobile phone number or financial information or try to redirect you to websites that require payment or download malicious software onto your computer.

Scams of this sort can be very sophisticated and scammers will go to great lengths to build a relationship with you, spending a lot of time communicating with you and perhaps even telling you they love you and sending you gifts. The key rule is that you should never send money to anyone you meet online and should reconsider your relationship with anyone who asks you for money or who you otherwise suspect may be a scammer. Avoid giving your personal contact information unless it’s in person as scammers can also simply sell your contact information. Until you met, communicating via the website is the safest way to communicate.

Scammers will often ask you to send money via a wire transfer service – you will usually be unable to recover money sent this way. You should also never share personal information, such as bank account or credit card details as you risk falling victim to fraud and identity theft.


How to spot a scammer

Any of the following behaviours should raise concerns that the person you are interacting with is a scammer: 

– They ask you to send them money or provide your personal or financial details

– They ask you to transfer money via a wire transfer service

– They quickly profess love for you

– They are vague about their interests

– They claim to be stationed in or travel frequently to Africa or elsewhere overseas

– Their profile, or their communications with you display poor spelling or grammar

– The insist on communicating outside the website

You should carefully consider your relationship with anyone who asks you to move communications with them away from the dating website onto email, instant messaging, the phone, Skype or some other method of communication after only a few messages. Scammers will often ask you to do this so that you will be communicating only with them, are more likely to reveal personal information and will not receive safety warnings.

You should never respond to a request for money, personal information or banking details, no matter the reason given. If you are worried or suspicious of a member you should report them immediately.


Real-life dating advice

When you have decided to meet someone in real-life there are still a few things you should try to remember:

– Don’t give over your personal contact details unless you are comfortable to do so.

– Never give out your home or office address unless you trust the person.

– When you meet for those first few dates, choose an open, public location.

– Trust your instincts, if you think something is wrong, you should politely make an excuse and leave.

– Never rely on your date for transport to or from your meeting place.

– Be careful with alcohol so that you keep your wits about you.

– Make sure you have a mobile phone that is fully charged and has enough minutes.

– Respect that your date may have the same concerns and don’t push them into doing anything.

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