How To Spot Online Dating Scams in 2020: Top 10 Ways, Things to Know

Online dating websites have made it easy for those looking to put themselves out there without having to go out and search; and it has given the ability to millions of people the capability to find long-lasting and meaningful relationships. 

Oftentimes, online dating scammers tend to stick to the same cookie-cutter methods when deceiving their victims. However, there are more than a few that are more widely used and should be looked out for.

Today we are going to go over the top online dating scams, so you know what to look for and add a few ways that can be put to use if you suspect you may be at risk of becoming a victim yourself. Let’s go over the top ten.

1. Try Hard Profile Photos

How To Spot Online Dating Scams

The vast majority of online dating scammers use stolen photos and use them as their online dating profile photo; some may even go as far as stealing multiple photos from an individual’s profile, so that they have a photo to share for different occasions. This will also give them the ability to send one to the victim when asked. This may fool those who are uneducated within this topic, but can be easily debunked with the help of Google’s Reverse Image search Feature. Using this will allow you to view every website that has that photo in their database, giving you the ability to see whether or not that photo is connected to more than one name. If it is, then it is almost certainly stolen.

2. Avoiding Phone Calls

Most online dating scammers are located within another country from far away overseas, which means they have an accent. Often, when a scammer is asked to initiate a phone call, they will create some sort of excuse as to why they can’t. This, however, cannot go on forever, so if they continue avoiding phone calls over the course of weeks, then this should raise a red flag. They also avoid phone calls because they will not have a local number, and if they do, it will be an online VOIP number, which would cause suspicion to the average person.

3. Visa Fraud

Visa Fraud

These individuals will wait for a few weeks after you both have began chatting online and, at first, may seem very loving due to the use of romantic keywords, but don’t let that fool you. These people are only out to lie and deceive you; the scammer will explain that they’d like to come visit, but there is only one problem. They go to the airport ready to hop on a flight, yet when they arrive, they suddenly find out that they lack funds to pay for their Visa. Some may even explain that they need a minimum bank account balance, so when asked to send money for this reason, block and report them right away.

4. Poor Grammar 

Online dating scammers are normally located outside of the victim’s country, meaning they may not have the proper grammar that is possessed by natives of said country. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will misspell words, though. It could be that they simply use overly extravagant words, or that they try too hard to sound perfect. In other words, they attempt to sound extra formal. Most online dating chats are casual at best; especially after a few messages have been exchanged. They may use words such as ma’am, sir, or whom, for example. These are words typically not used in casual chats and are definitely very commonly used by scammers trying to overcompensate and deliver.

5. Cancelling Visits Due To Sudden Emergencies

Cancelling Visits Due To Sudden Emergencies

It may not be a surprise when we say that online dating scammers do not want to meet you in real life, at least in most cases. Most of the time, these individuals will create a false emergency almost every time the victim asks them to come and visit. This may be hard to notice at first, especially if the scammer is using a good script. However, if they do this more than once or twice, this is obviously a scammer trying to find another victim — unless, of course, he is the unluckiest person on earth. This would be a great opportunity to video chat with them, so that you can judge his responses when you ask hard questions that may be difficult for him to answer using scripts while on a live call.

6. Avoiding Video Chats

We usually recommend in some of our guides to request a video chat to people who may suspect they are talking to an online dating scammer; and with reason. This gives you the ability to really pay attention to their facial expressions and responses, thus giving you the ability to judge their responses and determine whether or not they may be using a script. Video chatting can give you the opportunity to ask hard questions, which can make a scammer slip up due to the script failing to have a proper response. Scammers know this, which means in almost all cases, they will avoid it at all cost. Simply asking for a video chat and being denied multiple times is a dead give away that you are chatting with a scammer.

7. Requesting To Use Email

Anonymity and security is something all online dating scammers love to have, and this is something they cannot get on most online dating websites. Usually within a day or so, they will request that you both move over to email or another platform, such as Google Hangouts, to continue chatting. Beware, though — this only gives the scammer a much less of a chance of being banned on the dating website and gives him a bit more privacy. If someone asks you to move onto another platform to continue the conversation where it left off, this should immediately raise a red flag. However, if asked to move to Snapchat or Instagram, this may not necessarily be a scam; but this is where proper judgment should be used. 

8. They Fall In Love Very Quickly

They Fall In Love Very Quickly

We find that it is extremely common for online dating scammers to quickly fall in love with their victims. Most of the time, the victim will receive an “I love you” or “this was meant to be” within the first week. These individuals try their best to fast forward things as quickly as possible so that they can take money from you sooner, rather than later. Sadly enough, victims do not usually notice this, as most victims of romance scams are already vulnerable, although definitely not all. If you are told by someone on an online dating website or even social media that this person loves you and it has only been a week, this should undoubtedly be cause for suspicion.

9. They Claim They’re Military

This is by far the most known scam and is a very popular method used by those looking for new victims. This will initially begin with an individual being contacted by the scammer, who will then explain how he is deployed overseas, for example. This is used because Americans tend to trust their Military — for good reason. However, when you are contacted with someone claiming to be in the Military right off the bat, this should raise a red flag for most, although like with others, some good judgement is required. After all, there are millions of service members. This is where implementing Google’s reverse image search feature and paying attention to grammar would be very helpful.

10. They Request Money

Almost all online dating scams involve money in one way or another. Sometimes they may ask very quickly within a week, for example. However, sometimes they may wait for months to ask for money in order to gain your trust; especially if they plan on asking for a more substantial amount of money. The most common scammers will typically ask for smaller amounts at first, but will suddenly begin asking for much bigger amounts. These online scammers have numerous amounts of scams that they use and sometimes they can be extremely creative when making them. 


Top 5 Preventive Methods

1. Social Media

A large weak point that is very typical of online dating scammers is their social media. More often than not, they forget to both build structure such as lack of friends, page likes, posts and photos. Sometimes, they even have a personal social media account that has their real name and photo. The best way to combat this is to use Google’s reverse image search feature to see if the photo is stolen. Let’s talk more about that.

2. Google Reverse Image Search

Most online dating scammers like to use stolen photos taken from other social media accounts; and may even use a stock photo. Simply uploading this photo to Google’s reverse image search feature will allow them to search billions of websites to check if that photo is located elsewhere. Typically, if more than one name is connected to that photo, then it is stolen. 

3. Video Chats

Anonymity is something almost all online dating scammers want, which means in almost every circumstance, they avoid video chats at all cost. If you suspect that you may potentially be falling victim to a romance scam, request to initiate a video call with this person. If they deny this and make excuses, especially more than twice, then this is a huge red flag; and you should take extra precautions.

4. Phone Calls

Online dating scammers are not located within the same country as the victim in most cases, which means that they will likely have an accent. The scammers know this, so they will almost certainly not accept a phone call from their victim. Not only could this possibly expose the scammer as not being a local, it would also give the victim a chance to ask hard questions, which means the script that the scammer uses may not be nearly as effective. If you are denied a phone call, especially more than twice, then that should be considered suspicious.

5. Ask Hard Questions

This should go without saying, but if you suspect someone may be trying to scam you, ask hard questions. You might be wondering what those are. Questions such as “What kind of career do you have?” Or “Where did you go to college, and what did you study?” are great starting points. Doing so allows you the opportunity of letting them slip up and make an answer that is completely incorrect. For example, asking them which college they went to and what they studied could expose them immediately if they say they went to “XYZ” college and studied computer science, yet “XYZ” college has never offered a computer science course. 


Top 3 Words Of Advice on Dating Scams

1. Never Send Money

Top 3 Words Of Advice to protect from romance scams

On almost every occasion, scammers will inevitably ask you for money. Sometimes this can start small, and usually happens within the first few weeks, although it can happen after months have passed. However, if you are asked to send money for any reason, this should immediately raise a red flag. Never send money to anyone online, especially those who you have never met in real life.

2. Keep Personal Information Private

Personal information should be kept exactly what it is called: personal. Online dating scammers may not directly ask for money from you, but instead ask for personal information and take it themselves; and may even steal your identity. Never give anyone on an online dating website your social security number, banking details or your home address. Doing so could lead to huge legal issues such as bankruptcy, identity theft and, in some extreme cases, jail time.

3. Pay Attention To Keywords

Most of the scripts that are used by online dating scammers include certain keywords to use when they are grooming their victims. Keywords such as “fate” or “destiny” should immediately cause you to be suspicious, especially if you have both only been chatting for a week. These keywords are used to try and drag you into a romance trance, which will lower your guard, making you much more vulnerable to his request. 


Verdict

Throughout this guide, you have learned how to spot an online dating scam; and also what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming another victim. Online dating scammers spend a lot of time polishing their scripts and treat this like their full-time job.

We have seen many victims lose out on millions of dollars each. Some have even gotten married, only to end up divorced and broke due to Sugar Daddy scams. The key takeaway from this guide should be to never send money to anyone online, most particularly a potential romance; and this goes for private information too. Never do anything online that you may regret in the future, as some online dating scammers will use this to extort you. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stay vigilant.



Bryan Rucker
Written by Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker writes about all things related to online dating and lifestyle. He has written hundreds of articles, specializing in online dating scams, and has written other fun and exciting topics in the online dating space. Read more of Bryan's articles.

Other Related Articles