How to Avoid Online Dating Scams This Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is all about love, romance, flowers, cards, and scammers? While getting scammed is never a wanted occurrence, it is worse when it happens around a holiday or significant event. Valentine’s Day is when we can finally wear our hearts on our sleeves and make extravagant purchases.
It is also when scammers show up in the dozens. While some scammers concentrate on fake gift and flower offers, others try and scam through online dating. Find out what to look for and how to avoid falling for Valentine’s Day dating scam!
Valentine’s Day Scams
The Scammer Is in Search of Money
Perhaps you ‘meet-cute’ through an app or online. While you’ve only just started to communicate, you already find yourself strongly drawn to the other person.
They seem to recognize how special you are and, before long, are showering you in praise and attention. You begin to wonder if you just met your soulmate. They mention that they wish they were in town for Valentine’s Day date, but are overseas on a work trip. They are coming back next week and would love to make it up to you.
The only problem?
They find out they have a problem with their banking or credit card. Maybe they’re stuck at the airport or in a foreign country. They ask you to send or wire them money.
It’s a foreign (usually a Nigerian-based) scammer who does this sort of trickery for a living. They get people to trust and “fall in love” with them online, only to trick them out of money. Remember, if someone you haven’t met (except online) asks you to send them money they’re scamming you.
The question you have to decide is how much are you willing to lose. Hopefully, the answer is zero dollars! Report them to the site or app and, if you’ve lost funds, the FBI: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
Fake V-Day Card
Have you ever heard of phishing sites or malware? This type of scam is when you click on a link and (either directly or through a web of ‘redirect’ sites) end up on a website that is not legitimate. While you might have started on a real dating site, once you click on the fake link, you end up risking your private information being exposed.
While this can happen at any time, it is especially common around V-Day! This is because scammers know you’re more likely to ‘click’ on what looks like a link to a “Valentine’s Day” card. You think it’s a nice gesture until you click on it. The site you go to might immediately download malware or try and get you to enter private information to receive your (fake) online card.
How to Handle:
Block the scammer (they may even be a bot) immediately and report them to the online dating site. Make sure you keep all virus software up to date and perform scans regularly.
You begin communicating with someone who looks like a model. Although you haven’t met in person yet, they ask to communicate through another app or by text or email. Next thing you know, one thing has led to another, and you’ve exchange private (as in XXX) videos or naked photographs.
What Can Go Wrong
Unfortunately, scammers frequently take these private images or videos and use them to blackmail people. They will either threaten to share them with your friends and family or upload the images to YouTube and threaten to share the link. They claim the only way to stop them is by paying them hush money. This can be terrifying to those who are victimized. Contact the police department and the FBI.
Valentine’s Day can sometimes lead typically safe people to take chances in the name of love. Just because someone has beautiful photographs (which may be fake) and a great job (also possibly fraudulent), doesn’t mean you should meet them in a private location or at their home.
Always be aware of your surroundings, use common sense and trust your gut. Tell trusted friends and family when and where you are meeting someone and the other person’s information.
Hopefully, you followed our Valentine’s Day guide to help you avoid online dating scams. However, if you’re still not sure about someone you’ve only met online (are they legit or out to trick you?) visit Social Catfish.
On Social Catfish you can verify identity and search by name, username, reverse photograph search, and more!