Online dating scam: How to spot and how to avoid becoming a victim


Online dating has been on the rise in the past few years. With the rise in dating apps, incidents of online dating and romance scams have also increased. In 2021, Interpol issued a notice to its 194 member countries, including India warning against dating apps-related scams and asking users to stay vigilant and safe when entering online relationships.
On Valentine’s Day this year, McAfe has shared tips on how to spot an online dating scam and how to stay protected. The online safety provider has also listed types of dating apps scams.
Types of online dating scams
People who have filed fraud reports say they’ve paid their scammer in a few typical ways.

  • One such way is wiring money, often through a wire transfer company. The benefit of this route, for the scammer is that this is as good as forking over cash. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. The victim lacks the protections they have with other payment forms, such as a credit card that allows the holder to cancel or contest a charge.
  • Another way is through gift cards. Similar to a wire transfer, once that gift card is handed over, the money on it is highly difficult to recover, if at all.
  • One more common payment is through reloadable debit cards. A scammer may make an initial request for such a card and then make several follow-on requests to load it up again.

How do online dating scams get started?
Online dating scams aren’t limited to online dating apps and sites. They can begin on social media and in online games as well.
Initially, an introduction is made, a chat begins, and a friendship (or more) blossoms from there. Along the way, the scammer will often rely on exotic yet believable storytelling to lure the victim in, often involving their job and where they’re working.
With the phony relationship established, the scammer starts duping victims into wrong financial decisions. They share investment tips with their victims and influence them to join a scheme. Victims do not realize that they’re exploited until one day, all contact stops.
How do you avoid getting tangled up in an online dating or romance scam?
Social media can be a main tool for the scammers to target a victim. Here are things you can do on social media to avoid falling victim to online dating scams-
Make your social media profile private — Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others give you the option of making your profile and posts visible to friends only. Choosing this setting keeps others from seeing what you’re posting and can help protect your privacy.
Be critical of the invitations you receive — Out-and-out strangers could be more than a romance scammer, they use a fake account designed to gather information on users for purposes of cybercrime.
Keep your device’s security software update — Updating your laptop’s software to the latest version can steer you clear of other threats like viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks in general.