Nearly 60% of adults consider using online dating sites to meet people, and those over the age of 50 are some of the most active users. While dating sites can be full of potential suitors, they are also full of scammers ready to take advantage of those looking for companionship. According to the FTC, romance scams have kept a top spot as one of the most common forms of fraud over the last few years and contributed to the largest amount of financial loss compared to any other form of fraud. In 2019 alone, more than 25,000 people reported losing $201 million to romance scams, with the average victim losing $2,600 and those over the age of 70 losing an average of $10,000 or more. Unfortunately, in many of these situations recovering any amount of money is challenging to do.
While this may be alarming, it shouldn't deter you from using online dating sites and apps but rather encourage you to use them with safety in mind. Luckily, scammers tend to use many of the same techniques, and there are signs you can look out for.
Here are some red flags that you may have matched with a scammer:
- Professes love quickly, sends flattering messages, and attempts to gain your trust.
- Claim to be a doctor, work in the military, on an oil rig, or travel for work, making it difficult to meet in person.
- Share a story of an emergency and ask for money to help with hospital bills, rent, travel documents, settle a debt, etc.
- Ask for money to be sent a direct deposit, with a gift card, or money order.
- Talk and message extensively but will no longer respond after the money has been received.
Even when red flags are present many have a hard time believing the person they're talking to is trying to scam them. If someone tells you about a love they have yet to meet, suggest the following:
- Remind them that anyone can use an email address to make a dating profile! Dating apps and websites don't verify the identity of their users.
- Search the full name and email address online to see if the information they provided matches.
- Use other details provided by the scammer to do an internet search and learn about others who've been scammed.
- Use images.google.com to do a reverse image search and see if the photos are their own.
- Show them how to report and block someone on their dating app or website.
Online dating can be exciting, but it shouldn't put you or your financial information at risk. Avoid online dating scams and keep your information safe by never sharing credit card or bank account information on risky websites or with someone you met online. Remember, it's not true love if they ask for money!
To learn more about scams, visit MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/ScamsAndFraud