In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 (5,300) through online dating sites.
He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate.
Scammers are good at being charming and saying all the right things—and they start it fast.
They have a lot of victims to get through, so they’re going to try to move things along as quickly as possible.
The most common reasons that they give for needing money are not being able to afford a passport, visa, other travel documents, or plane tickets (often to come see you); an emergency stay in the hospital that requires a huge sum of money; getting robbed while traveling; or not being able to access their money from abroad.
There’s a huge variety of reasons that you could get.
Of course, just because someone is younger doesn’t mean that they’re a scammer; it’s just something to keep in mind.
The photos used by scammers can also clue you in that something is off.
It’s possible that it’s someone looking for an affair on a dating site The Internet seems ecstatic about the Ashley Madison hack, with millions of adulterers' and potential adulterers' details hacked and released online, with articles outing individuals found in the data dump. Even if someone’s profile looks legit, there are other signs to keep an eye out for, especially during the beginning of your communication.
For example, scammers will often ask you to communicate with them outside of the dating site—via email, through Facebook, or even on Skype.
If someone sends you a message and says they’d like to get to know you, save a copy of their picture and use Google’s reverse image search to see if anyone has posted about that photo being used for a scam.
If that image shows up on other profiles with different names, you should be suspicious. If you receive other photos, and anything seems off, be wary.