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Online Dating Scams

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-02-12 (Rev. 2015-09-09) - How to check if an online dating member profile is genuine or someone trying to scam you. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World.

Main Document

Quote: "If you think it is a scam, it probably is. The red flags are always there. Anyone asking for money online, when you have never met them in person, is pretty much a scam. Don't fall for it."

Google Trends shows that online dating is getting popular. As a result, the number of romance scams as well as victims are on the rise.

From my first hand experience, majority of the dating scams are from West African countries - Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, etc. This is collectively called Nigerian Romance Scams - one of the various forms of Nigerian scams.

A Dating Scam normally involves these steps:

Step #1: The scammer posts an attractive photo (such as attractive professional models) and fake profile on a dating website.

Step #2: Mass message members with pre-written copy of message.

Step #3: In the message, the scammer normally shows interests in the victim's profile and asks if the victim wants to know more about the scammer. Most of the time an email address (Yahoo mail or Hotmail) of the scammer is included in the message.

Step #4: If the scammer gets replies, he/she would make up stories and would normally claim how bad his/her current situation is and needs help to overcome it in some way. The scammer's story could be very emotional and easily gain sympathy and affection from the victim.

Step #5: The scammer gradually lures the victim away from the messaging channels provided by the dating website towards external means such as personal emails, instant messaging, telephone calls, or even webcam (this is the scary part. They will find excuses not to show their real faces but they could take photos of the victim via webcam. Sometimes they ask the victim to get naked. The scammer would later demand for money by threatening with exposure of the victim's naked photos on internet).

Step #6: No matter what the story is, after a period of establishing trust, romance, and desire, the scammer will ask for money to be sent in forms such as cash money orders, send merchandise, or currency exchange via a telegraphic money transfer service, usually Western Union or Moneygram, etc.

Step #7: The scammer keeps asking for money until the victim can't afford or the fraud is perceived.

Note that the scammers steal attractive photos from other websites, so these photos have nothing to do with these scammers. The real people of these photos are also victims of romance scam.

How to identify red flags in a profile or message

Scam profiles or messages share characteristics that can be generalized. Here is a list that I summarized from the scam profiles and messages on my site.

Scammers Profiles are made up of these attributes:

  • 20 to 35 years of ages
  • Single with no kids
  • Looking for long-term relationship or romance
  • Profession is normally student, nurse, model (or will become a model)
  • Profiles are usually perfect in English but messages are broken.
  • Relocation: the scammer claims she/he is traveling, working, or stuck in a foreign country and would like to come back to the country (US, Australia, etc) soon.
  • The scammers tell you that they are having trouble to get back home or cash their paychecks.
  • Email address is included in the message (normally Yahoo or Hotmail email address) and is very keen to talk from there rather than use the dating site's internal messaging channels.
  • Promise to send more photos via emails if get replies.

What to do if you suspect that someone is trying to scam you

  • Some members on my site ask scammer questions about Australia (where she/he is living, what towns are around, Football or cricket questions, etc) and many times the scammer wouldn't have a clue.
  • One member asked where the scammer lived in Australia and what towns were around her. The scammer said she lived in Sydney. Her reply was "I do not go outside much, so I do not know what towns are around me". She was clearly scamming. She could not even spell Australia right.
  • Report your suspicion to the dating site webmaster.

Educate yourself about online dating scams and help yourself to know how to prevent it from happening to you. Next time when you use an online dating service, I hope you would be able to judge by yourself the credibility of profiles and messages.

Dating Scam Profile examples

Profile #1

I am emotional and passionate, open and kind, very serious about life. I have great sense of humor and I adore smiling.I am a good hostess, kind and communicable person, with good sense of humor, but have serious attitude to life, very vulnerable, also I am reliable, responsible and careful. I do not use make up, I always prefer natural beauty. I like sun, the sea and the beach. In the future I would like to have 2 children (a boy and a girl). i am looking for a real man, a real gentleman who knows how to treat a real lady like me, who is not afraid to have a beautiful young wife close to him and who will appreciate such kinds as loyalty and will be ready to give it in return.I hope to meet with the man of my dreams - very cheerful, generous, tender, kind and at the same moment strong and purposeful.I want to meet a man, who will be the only one for the whole life, who will love me. I would like to be treated like a queen.

Profile #2

I don't like fake people, drugs, or couch potatoes. I love diversity and I enjoy people that are down to earth. I desire to become a better person inside and out. I'm a music fanatic. I have a hunger to learn new things. One of my hobbies is studying photography. One of my goals is to become a model. I like positive people and I try to surround myself with people who have an open mind

Profile #3

I am an open, loving, and romantic woman who enjoys reading, listening to music, and watching films. I love to cook, especially for others. I have a sense of humor which is a little left of center. I 'll admit that I have a tiny bit of baggage, but it's more carry-on than check-in. I am definitely ready to meet Him, the man I am meant to grow old with. I think about him

What is most important to me is to be with someone who enjoys my company, has a tremendous amount of warmth, integrity and loyalty with honesty and great affection. I am not a partier and would prefer to be with someone who, while he enjoys a good time, doesn't necessarily want to burn the candle at both ends. I am a morning person. I love to wake up, read the paper, go for a walk and start my day on a high note. I am totally over cynicism. I love a dry, but good-natured sense of humor. I am looking for someone who possesses personal style and takes care of himself physically and emotionally but but best I can take care of him better that he may think he do . Most of all, I want to meet someone who is not afraid of love, commitment and my free spirit. he most be attractive, sensitive and possesses integrity, warmth, and an earthiness that draws me in. I prefer a men who have experienced in life a bit. He must enjoy travel and if he doesn't , well its okay by me because I enjoy traveling , I have been so many country, the arts, and be well-educated or at least intelligent. I am not looking for perfection, just someone who is in touch with himself and is honest about what he wants in life. My perfect match will totally get me: my sense of humor, occasional intensity, and quirky habits. I will adore him , feminine men: soft skin, cute hair, a dab of lipstick. I love to be cooked for but can best do that , to be spoiled on occasion. I am not high maintenance, but flowers or a love letter are nice. I love celebrating big moments...and little moments.

Message examples

These messages normally start with a sense of desire to know more about you and in return, show you more about me.

Message #1

My name is Helena and I am 29 years old. I have no kid. I am a very personable person and I like to be involved in a lot of things. I have a problem at the moment which is just a minor setback for me and I have a lot to catch up on when I return home. I don't have anyone in my life (friend or family) at this time and I do get lonely. I'm using this as a means to meet new people and stay updated on fashion!! . I also will pursue my modeling career upon my return home. I am not looking for love, just a companion. If love should fine me then I'm open to it, I will like to hook up sometimes but at the moment I am having a big problem Thats is making things hard for me that's why I said when I return don't know if you care to know what my problems are. Hope to hear from you soon!u can email me directly to my email.

Message #2

I am very family oriented, although i have no children. I am definitely real and in West Africa now. Remember that your best friend in the whole world was a total stranger at one time. Get to know me, there are no complications in my life and i'm versatile like vanilla ice cream. I am, can be and will be full of nice surprises. Most of all, i'm sincere I'm not looking for one nighters or friends with benefits. I want someone to share love and life with. ;-)

My man would be my angel. And how do we treat angels With respect and love. And like we really appreciate them.

I'm not into the nightclub scene and my life would appear boring, but I have fun and those around me do also. I don't have or want "drama".

I'm only here to find my partner, than i'm done with online chat. I want someone attractive and healthy but not perfect, and if you have kids... great !

Either way " I want to have kids in my life also " I feel that I would be a great mother if the right person is willing to share that LIFETIME responsibility.

My group of friends is small by choice and there's room for another. If your heart is beating a bit faster now... it could be you. Anyways im presently in west africa, Nigeria for my job(work for an importing company as the sales rep. Sells and Exports African Fabrics (Attire), If you've got a Y! IM to communicate, you can as well just put my first and last name together you'll get my IM id.tobyjhonson at yahoo .co.uk or goldenheart09 at hotmail.com

hope to hear from you. Looking forward to find out the chemistry between us ;) Ur #1 Fan, Toby.

Message #3

Hello, This is Angelina from Cowandilla in Australia ,i go through you profile its look nice and lovely. I am a sexy, loyal, and devoted woman who's looking for a man to please me.Someone to share personal moments with, enjoy life and to firmly hold the blessings of a lasting and undying happiness. I am willing to relocate to a secure foundation a steady relationship and to meet the terms,I'm a strong,sexy, smart, independent female with many goals and lots of drive. I like romantic evenings and bedroom talk. I'm a real woman looking for a real man,and i hope you will be the real man to me.If you're really interested you can e-mail me direct to this address or add me to your messenger list.

Message #4

This how it happened 10yrs ago my father died in terrible car accident and before then i was doing fine had a good job and my own place which i gave up because we had to sell the family house because there was a big mortgage on it,my sister had her own problems at the time and she has her own place and family so i couldn't leave my mother on her own so we rented a house together,we where both doing fine then b4 she had a cancer and died when i could not get money.some days after i heard a friend of my who lives in nigeria she has an accident and she was in the hospital i have to move there to see her health when i arrive there i lost the hospital address and it night and i can't get flight at night cos it too dangerous for me to go home at night i have to log in a hotel for me to go the next day in the midnight some mens came so they attack me and stole all my money goods i brought In the hotel and they ran away but they did not hurt me i try to explain things to the hotel but they will not believe me so they said all they need is there money so right now am stuck in a hotel in nigeria and all i now to come back home is to pay the hotel bill and i will be glad if you can.

Tip 1: Red flag in general

The overall pattern of the dating scam is that a person who may contact you in order to obtain money. Scammers will use a false gender, name, age, country, occupation. They will describe them as honesty, kind, loyal, truthful, sweet, and caring. They will make up stories about their misfortune and are in-need of your help.

Tip 2: Red flags in username

A scammer's username normally consists of love, trust, or sympathy related terms which are often combined with common first names. Common love, trust, or sympathy related terms include luv, love, nice, honest, faith, sweet, baby, care, angel, lonely, alone, 4u, real, etc. Commonly used first names are nancy, suzy, monic, cyndy, debby, sonia, jane, lori, laura, vanessa, etc.

Often the username can also contain some numbers at the end to help the scammers easily remember or track their uses on different dating sites. For example 'Vivian' may have '001' at the end.

Here is a sample of scammer usernames:

  • care4love
  • suzylove
  • lonelysara
  • angel099
  • Vivian001
  • greatlady4u
  • princess4u
  • aloneangel
  • faith2sweetgirl2u
  • singleangel
  • estherinlove007
  • vivian19
  • honestandlonely4u
  • dianaseeks
  • comlove77
  • care4me
  • toocare
  • lovenlife11212
  • john_prenso004
  • mclohan_john123

Tip 3: Red flags in email address

The most popular used email service by scammers is Yahoo Mail. Patterns in email addresses are similar to those in scammer usernames.

Some examples below:

  • bintamathew4luv at yahoo.com
  • debbie_care4u at yahoo.com
  • andrew_garfieldpets at yahoo.com
  • i2coolluv at yahoo.com
  • lori_joan4141 at yahoo.com
  • janejarrett007 at yahoo.com
  • uluvu2 at yahoo.com
  • vesacassavacompany at yahoo.com.au
  • steve_walterluv at yahoo.co.uk

Tip 4: Red flags in dating profile description

The dating site scammer often polish their personality traits in their profile as "easygoing, honesty, quiet, kind, loyal, truthful, straight forward, sincere, loving, understanding, caring, elegant, sociable, sensitive, gentle, cheerful, optimistic, romantic, warm, cuddly, hard-working, goal orientated, ambitious"...

Scammers use terms that are not normally used in the area location which they list in their profile. One scammer claimed to be in Australia and listed one of her favorite things as summer long rides on a motorcycle heading towards small villages. That's an obvious lie as there are no villages in Australia except farms. People don't use the word "village" in Australia for the meaning of rural regions or countryside area.

Tip 5: Red flags in chatting, messages or emails

This is a list of red flags that normally will happen after communications with the scammer started, either by way of text chat, on-site messages, or emails.

  • They quickly declare that they have fallen in love with you and insist that you have made a huge change in their lives.
  • They would normally say they live or born in USA, UK, Australia but have to go overseas to work in Ghana, Nigeria, or somewhere in Africa. But will be coming home soon.
  • They will spill their guts to you that how mis-fortunate they've been. The stories are always similar and play on your sympathies. One example is that they say they are widowed and their spouse and children are killed in an accident. They eventually tell you that they need some kind of help. Generally that help comes down to help with money. If this person was standing in front of you face to face, would you accept what they had to say
  • Most scammers are from Africa or Russia, the scammers may misuse some terms that are obviously wrong. For example, in a chat during the day, a scammer who claimed to be in Brisbane and he kept saying "night" continuously.
  • Scammers will normally claim they don't visit the dating site often and request you to contact them directly via their email address or add them directly to your Instant Messenger.

Tip 6: Red flags in the member's age

Age for female scammers are normally span from 25 to 30 and they always try to target male dating members who are between 40 and 60 years of age because this age group is normally financially secure.

Age for male scammers are normally span from 40 to 50 and they always try to target female dating members who are between 40 and 60 years of age.

Tip 7: Red flags in photos

Most of the female scammers profiles use photos stolen from modeling websites, so the photos look neat and are very professionally taken.

Many male scammers use photos that appear to be everyday snaps. Scammers from African countries will send a passport-like photo of themselves. It will be very grainy and somewhat aged.

Tip 8: Red flags in English grammar and spelling

Grammar and spelling errors are normally everywhere in a scammer's profile and message. You can easily spot it, especially when the scammer shows you he/she has good education background such as Masters degree.

What to do if you have become victim of online dating scams

If you think it is a scam, it probably is. The red flags are always there. Anyone asking for money online, when you have never met them in person, is pretty much a scam. Don't fall for it.

Happy and Safe Dating!

Related Information:

  1. Home Loan Modification Scams
  2. Service for Hearing Impaired Scam Affects Businesses
  3. Ways Senior Citizens Can Avoid Scams




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