~ OCTOBER 2022 ~
Love makes people do crazy things, but taking out a loan and going into debt for a stranger you met on a dating app shouldn’t be one of them.
Thanks to documentaries like Tinder Swindler and Bad Vegan, we’re more aware of dating scams than ever before.
But, in an age in which it’s easier to meet someone through a dating app than in real life, you’re not just going to throw your phone into the sea. So long as you’re prepared and have safety top of mind, you can navigate the world of online dating without getting caught in a money-making scheme.
To help you determine which signs may indicate that you’re dealing with a dating app scammer versus a real, honest love candidate, here are the top tips you should follow from online dating expert Julie Spira, the CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert.
5. Get as many details as possible upfront
Thoroughness counts on a dating app, so look for singles who have actually put some time and effort into their profiles. “People who fill out the fields, prompts, and post six photos are the ones you want to pursue,” Spira explains.
If a user has only one photo, or the quality of their pics is low and/or blurry, swipe left. This could potentially be a scammer who doesn’t want to put in the work of crafting a fake bio, whereas “someone serious about finding love will fill out the entire profile,” Spira says.
Once you match with someone, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Part of dating includes getting to know the other person, and anyone legitimate will be more than happy to share about themselves (perhaps even too much).
4. Look for flashy red flags
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. “On profiles, it’s a red flag when someone brags about money or poses in front of fancy cars that might not be theirs and talks about their lifestyle with private planes and traveling around the world,” says Spira.
As everyone saw in the Tinder Swindler, this is often just a trap to get you caught up in the idea of having a glamorous future with this person. In reality, they may simply be a dating app scammer trying to con you out of your hard-earned money.
3. Request a video date
It’s a big step to meet a potential match in person. But a virtual date via video chat? Pssh, that should be an easy no-brainer.
“Technology today makes it easy to hop on a FaceTime, Zoom, or in-app video chat,” Spira says. “If your date refuses to show their face on any of these platforms, they might be hiding something.”
If a match keeps giving you excuses for why they can’t catch up via video, it’s a major red flag. In fact, if the person you’re chatting with lives in a different country than you do, chances are, they could be living a double life. Steer clear and move on.
2. Watch out for “Love Bombing”
“When communicating on an app, it’s a red flag if someone says ‘I love you’ too fast or tells you they’ve never felt this type of instant connection before,” Spira says. “They will likely define the relationship immediately and ask you to become their girlfriend or boyfriend to make you feel secure about their love for you.”
Other signs include getting showered with expensive gifts, which may make you feel like a princess at first, but could cost you in the end.
“Beware of the love bomber who sends fancy roses and over-the-top presents to win your heart,” adds Spira.
1. See through any sob stories or cries for help
The number one way to avoid dating app scammers is to use your head rather than your heart when you’re chatting with any of your matches.
Dating app scammers are sneaky in that they know that playing with your emotions can get you to open your mouth—revealing personal info that they can use to rip you off—or your wallet.
“Eventually, there will be a sob story or some emergency that requires you to open your wallet and transfer money to them temporarily,” Spira explains. “It could be a work crisis or a medical emergency.”
“If work is to blame, they will say they’re waiting to get paid and promise to repay you very quickly. Then they will disappear,” she warns.
Whatever you do, say no to any requests for money, and keep your private information locked up.