Don't let his smooth talk — and your desperation — cloud your judgment.
Some people have great success with Internet dating; yet, there are hazards that must be known so that Internet dating doesn't cost you emotionally, mentally and monetarily. Some are so desperate to find love, that they ignore warning signs, in a hopeful exchange of a possibility of being in love.
Here are warning signs and online dating advice so you don't waste time with frauds, and instead can focus on the possibility of real love. (Note: I used male pronouns here, but scammers can be either gender and can present themselves however they wish online):
1. Vague profile. Start with what is stated on the Internet site. Scammers often are not specific in what they are looking for in a mate. Thus, more people will respond and fit their requirements. When making contact with you, scammers start by complementing you on your looks. Wouldn't we rather be complemented on accomplishments or what your goals are?
2. He loves you, sight unseen. "I love you" is a statement that everyone wishes to hear, but how do you know if it's real? Charlatans tell you they love you before they have ever met you in real life. Think about it: How do you know if there is real charisma there? Some people can sound great on the phone, but when you meet them there is nothing there; or, physically they just don't meet your standards. How can someone honestly love you before having met you in person?
3. Too much, too fast. The other part of the "I love you" scam is when he says something like, "Something in me shifted, and I love you," or, "I think I have found my soulmate." Again, he hasn't even met you, and there hasn't been enough time to know you well enough to truly love you in the way you wish to be loved. How can someone want to spend the rest of their life with you when he's known you less than a month?
4. Going offline. There is a reason scammers wish for you to contact them directly via private email and not use messaging available through the dating site. You're using a dating site to protect your privacy and help you avoid scammers. Don't fall for whatever their reason is to write to him directly before meeting him in person.
5. Avoiding questions. "How tall are you?" "What do you do for a living?" It's almost as if his mail is sent automatically, like you are on his list and this is the next standard e-mail that is sent out. Him answering with questions to your specific questions is a sign of a scammer as he is not giving you an answer.
6. Playing phone games. First off, I don't recommend calling an online suitor without having met him first. But if you do ... if your phone identifies the calling number, and you return the calls but the number is rarely answered or almost always goes to voicemail, you're probably dealing with a scammer. Remember, there are a number of services where you can get a phone number with almost any prefix. Also, if he is supposedly overseas on a trip, and he gives you his foreign number and says call any time, it is more likely his real number. Why? He's more than willing for you to get the long-distance bill, versus him calling you.
7. He can't meet, for some reason or another. Another indication that a scam may be going down is when there is a distance between where you both live. When you say you'll be in his area and would like to get together, he can't meet with you. This is a great test: Ask to meet soon after the introduction on the Internet. If there are continual excuses, then you know that person doesn't really live where they say they do, and/or he isn't truly interested in you.
8. It's all about the money. Most people who earn a decent living wish to be wanted for who they are, not for their income. Yet, scammers will often indicate that they make more than $150,000 a year in an attempt to set up the person who wants to know them for their income, and not for themselves. This way, when he says he's gotten into a jam and requests money, the unsuspecting person thinks her investment or loan will actually get reimbursed.
9. "How much money do you make?" Shortly after the introduction, the person asks about your financials as he's looking to find out what kind of person he is dealing. In other words, he is really wishing to find out if you are worth his time to scam, as you have financial resources to share. Think about your friendships—do they ask you about your financials? Not many do, especially when you've not known each other for very long.
10. His photos are fake. Ask him to send you a picture of himself via snail mail. When the exact same pictures show up that are on the Internet, it is an indication that the pictures may not really be of him, or why wouldn't he send a different set of pictures? (Do a Google Image search to see if his photo shows up on stock photo sites or catalogs.) Notice the background in the pictures posted online. Are they indicating that they are wealthy? Does it show a big house, a new boat, or something else that yells wealth? Again, people who have real wealth do not advertise it. So, when a picture flagrantly indicates wealth, one needs to consider whether it's real. Did the person go to a boat dock and simply stand in front of a great looking boat and have his picture taken? Did he ask a Realtor to show him an expensive house and then have his picture taken at the house? Be suspicious of pictures taken outdoors.
11. He wants to "borrow" money from you. It's easy for a scam to be set up by a foreigner, even one who is not currently in the United States. One of the more popular scams is to pretend to be a resident who has either recently moved to the States in the last two years, or who is in the process of moving here. Here's how it goes: He gets called back to his home country to do a lucrative job with either really important people or for a really good commission or a big paycheck. Once overseas, something horrible happens that leaves him broke or close to broke—his money got stolen from the hotel, the taxi driver stole it, the airlines forced him to check his luggage and his money was in it. Whatever the reason, a smart person, or one who travels, knows better than to let it occur. He asks you for a temporary loan. Think about this. Why you? Doesn't he have any friends or family that could help him out if the situation was true? How much money is being requested? Is the amount of money being requested realistic for the situation described? Be aware that the person may ask that you send money via DHL, or another global service to a name, other than his or her own. This is a huge red flag, as they must show ID to collect the money, so his "friend's" name is more likely his real name. Either way, do you really want to get involved with this person? Ask yourself how desperate are you for a relationship? Scammers count on that desperation.
13. Control by guilt. Most people are basically good people and want to help. So, if you start to get suspicious and ask if this is a scam, he will most often get mad and attempt to make you feel guilty. Then, he must create a new heartfelt situation that requires you to send money.
14. He uses lovely speech. He writes letters filled with love, as if the letters were written right out of a romantic novel. Listen to how often flattery is used. He just met you, so how can he give honest flattery?
In addition to the warning signs abobe, here are some of the commonalties among scammers. Remember, they have a plethora of these, but not necessarily all of these traits.
- His name consists of two first names.
- He has a foreigner or has an accent.
- He doesn't call often, as he would rather write.
- The facts that he gives you don't check out. Example: He's not on the alumni list of the college he says he attended.
- He must travel overseas shortly after meeting you.
- He makes promises that are unrealistic.
In summary, be smart about dating on the Internet. If the new person cannot meet you in person within the first two to three weeks of chatting or writing online, then he isn't the person for you. If he's moving too fast declaring his love, he's not the person for you. If he falls in love with you before actually meeting you, he's not for you. Constantly ask yourself, how desperate are you? The more desperate to find someone, the easier it is for you to become a pawn in the scammers' game.