How To Emotionally Protect Yourself From Romance Scams

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How To Emotionally Protect Yourself From Romance Scams
Love, Heartbreak

You don't have to be desperate or needy to fall for a skilled romance scammer. Be prepared.

After so much publicity of people getting lured into romance scams, I became a catfishing PI.

I discovered many incidents of people who have been scammed by spambots on dating apps and other social media outlets.

The effects can be devastating to your self-esteem and make you question everything.

Here are the kinds of things that people have said about their experience with romance scams from online:

  • "I was catfished by a woman pretending to be a man."
  • "I don’t trust anyone online anymore. I can’t even trust myself."
  • "Violated can’t even describe how I feel right now."
  • "Was I catfished on Tinder? Am I in danger?"
  • "I’m heartbroken and don’t know what to do. I thought I had finally found someone."

If you are a catfish casualty, you know how it feels. It hurts, feels confusing, devastating. You can feel brokenhearted and even stupid.

RELATED: 6 Ways You Can Weed Out The Weirdos While Online Dating

In case you don’t know what the term means, a catfish is a misleading, malicious person who creates a bogus profile online in attempts to start a cyber love affair. A catfish online will mentally and emotionally torture the unsuspecting victim —  who might be you.

Thankfully there is someone in the world who wants to up the level of security of online dating and stop romance scams online.

Oliver Heartmont, the CEO of Flip Dating app, said, "There are great and unique people out there who genuinely want to find love and companionship, but they’re being put off by the Dating Industry’s blatant disregard for their safety. With Flip, I hope to say to these people ‘Come and join me over here. We’re making dating safe and fun."

In 2010 there was a documentary called "Catfish" that led to the reality series, "Catfish: The TV Show". The credit of the term "catfish" comes from the film.

Catfishing is a heinous act where an alluring profile can be set up online and hook virtual claws into the hearts and romantic minds of innocent people who are looking for connection and love.

It’s a shame catfishing has caused so much heartbreak and confusion for honest people. Online is a great place to meet people you may have never met otherwise.

If you’re expecting a real person to be on the other side of the glowing screen and they aren’t who they say they are, it can have devastating effects.

Tinder has sparked millions of matches, but there is a problem with it and other online dating apps that lead to romance scams. According to Mashable, Tinder, the romance sparking swiping app, is loaded with flirtatious and fabricated profiles.

These sneaky catfishers post photos of beautiful women or handsome men that get swiped on often. But these curvy big-eyed brunettes and muscle-bound men with tattooed sleeves aren’t real people— they are fakers posing as someone else, and sometimes they are just spambots with pretty pictures.

After you swipe right on Tinder, you can start a conversation with these sexy cyber “people”  that will respond with alluring and sometimes weird messages. Spambot software programs message you the right things to say and suave catfishers first pull at your heartstrings and even possibly your wallet.

Once the catfisher line is cast your way, you may be casually invited to a private site asking for your credit card information. Of course, it will say connecting is free, but a charge will end up on your bank statement if you don’t read the fine print.

Sometimes, a catfisher will start by asking you first to send something small like an iTunes gift card. Or get a package delivered to your house. Both of these things happened to friends of mine.

Catfishers know if you buy something small you are more likely to buy something much more expensive. Like, send them a $1000 to fix their broken car or help them pay for their grandmother’s surgery after they have asked you for a smaller favor. Like getting a stolen electronics — or as they say, a "gift" or a "package" sent to your home address.

Tinder grabs Facebook data to populate their user’s profiles, and this can be a playground for romance scams online.

According to Business Insider, 10 percent of Facebook’s 2.07 billion monthly users are duplicated, which means there are around 207 million duplicate accounts. There are also approximately 60 million phony profiles. Statistics are looking fishy in the current landscape of smoldering online singles.

Romance scammers are interested in personal gain. Some of them have low self-esteem while others have one or more of the evil traits of the dark triad in psychology: Narcissism, Machiavellianism or psychopathy. These are the scary people, and you need to emotionally protect yourself from them.

These questionable folks manipulate you and influence your emotions like a Harlequin romance novel. They will boost your ego to raise their own and sweep you off your feet in the process.

Sometimes catfishers do this to get revenge on an ex or to try and get money out of an unsuspecting single, or to just be cruel to someone that reminds them of the cheerleader who wouldn’t give them the time of day in High School.

Sadly, with the increase of social media and online dating, most dating sites are a breeding ground for catfishers to take advantage of innocent people like you. 

Catfishing happens on Facebook, Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, and other social media sites.

RELATED: I Was A Professional Catfish Who Was Probably Paid To Talk To You On Tinder

In an interview preparing for his new dating app launch, Flip dating for Android, Oliver Heartmont said, "We’re providing a platform where you can concentrate on finding that special someone because at Flip we’ve got your back. Every profile is checked and continually monitored. If you aren’t who you say you are you’re not getting on our site.”

He wants the catfishing to end for online daters, especially his Mom. This will be the future of dating where romance scammers are kept from being online and banned forever.

Heartmont sees the suave male catfishers that try to tempt his mother. They claim to be successful men happened to be stranded in a foreign country and need money. It’s sad. 

Heartmont doesn’t want anyone to mess with his mother, or any other sister, daughter or mother from around the globe.

Becoming emotionally involved in a romance scan with someone who is not real online can have these devastating effects:

  • You feel shocked.
  • It lowers your self-esteem.
  • You may have depression.
  • You feel embarrassed.
  • You feel ashamed for getting duped
  • You get thoughts like like, "How can I ever trust myself again?"
  • You feel anxious because you are on the lookout for other scammers.
  • You may have issues with trust again.
  • You never regain the time you devoted to a person that doesn’t even exist
  • Real people fall in love with fake people online all the time people just like you.
  • Falling in love with a pretend person, and losing them still feels like losing a real person you loved. I want you to protect yourself.
  • When you devote your precious time and resources while getting to know someone you can get sucked into the fantasy with their seductive manipulations.
  • You want them to be real because the attention they give you feels good.

Don’t get emotionally attached to a person you’ve never met.

Being smitten can especially happen when a clever catfisher showers you with deviously intended and seductive advances. Then BAM! You are in deep with your time and your emotions.

These catfishers study their prey and know how to get into your psyche and wreak havoc on your emotions— You need to pay attention to the red flags.

I was online dating a few years ago. I’m a dating coach and know about catfishing. I can spot them — most of the time.

But I allowed myself to get sucked in even though I had my suspicions. I got seduced by the attention and the emotional connection I started feeling after a few phone conversations with a particular man.

After doing a Google Image Search of my matches photos online, one of his pictures showed up on a dating scammer website. I still didn’t want to believe he was a fake because he had created this fantasy in my mind of how perfect we would be together.

RELATED: My Best Friend Catfished Me — But Refuses To Admit It

He kept delaying our meeting, and I wanted to believe that he was real. We talked on the phone a couple more times, and I told him about his photo I had found on the scamming site. He wiggled his way around it.

He kept pushing off meeting and said he was wary of connecting in person because he had a previous female stalker in the past. I told him if he was afraid to meet a 120-pound woman at Starbucks when he was a coward.

His anger shot through the roof in an instant. Luckily this happened, because I don’t "do" outrage. I didn’t talk to him after that and it hurt like hell because I started having feelings for him. I called him out on a big fat lie and it showed its ugly head through his rage.

You begin believing everything a catfisher tells you is real because they are pros. Catfishers suck your energy, and I want you to protect yourself.  So, I’ve scoured the internet for catfishing stories so you can spot the signs yourself.

Here are some signs that you are being catfished so you can protect yourself from romance scams.

  1. The guy has muscles like the Rock.
  2. The woman is a 10+.
  3. Your potential online romantic partner is living in Afghanistan or some other far a palace for an undisclosed amount time.
  4. The scammer professes their love for you too fast.
  5. You feel like they are too good to be true.
  6. Photos are old, grainy, too close, too dark, or far away.
  7. They don’t answer questions with a straight answer. For example, you ask, "When are you coming back to the States?", they reply, "Not much longer." What the heck does that mean?
  8. A catfisher will not Skype or Facetime with you.
  9. They make excuses like, "My grandfather has surgery and I have to help him recover for seven months."
  10. They delay talking on the phone or meeting in real life.
  11. Their profile is incomplete.
  12. They have a sudden surgery or injury that keeps them away for a long time.
  13. The catfisher asks you for money.

If you get catfished, don’t beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us— and hopefully, that will be changing with the verified profiles at Flip.

Catfishing is real, and the catfishers are experts at getting into the hearts of well-adjusted, normal sweet people who are looking for love online.

Oliver Heartmont of Flip dating said, "Dating apps are getting lazy. They put the burden of personal safety onto their users. No fake profiles are slipping through our verification process. Not on my watch."

This new app is going to change the face of online dating. But for now, I want to arm you in case you have a suspiciously acting match online.

It happens to many people online. Getting catfished is a humiliating and emotional roller coaster that can leave you feeling depressed or even worse. So be ready.

Here are steps you can do to protect emotionally protect yourself from romance scams.

  1. Ask your match for their last name — if they don't give it, something might be up.
  2. Search the person’s name on Google.
  3. You can also use a Google Voice phone number if you want to keep yours private until you get to know someone.
  4. If they ask you to switch to a different app like KIK quickly — don’t do it. You may be chatting with a spambot!
  5. If you get their number do a reverse phone number search and check it’s not a burner phone with no name listed. This is an indicator they are trying to hide something.
  6. Get your match on the phone after a few back and forth emails.
  7. Save any photos you have from their profile and upload them to Google Images. This will scour the web for the same or similar photos. You might be shocked to find the photos of the person with another name or find them on a scammer site.
  8. Several catfishers copy pictures from online and use them in their profiles. The Google Image Search their photos, and you may find the person is a catfisher.
  9. Take the easy route and sign up with an app like Flip who verifies and monitors all of their users.
  10. If you suspect someone is romance scammer block them and contact your dating app's support team if you can find the contact page.

Heartmont said, "App dating has their problems. At Flip, we’re working to solve them. I want to combine the excitement and immediacy of app dating with real-world security."

If you want to explore, Heartmont says, "Download the app and come out and play! Flip is safe and sexy-cool, and we’ve got your back."

You can date safely with their new Verification Technology, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Cause every little thing is gonna be alright. Bob Marley had it right all along. So, let’s get swiping and find the romance and love you deserve!

RELATED: 5 Red Flags That Are Warnings He's Going To Waste Your Time

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Dina Colada is a dating coach and dating detective who is an expert at making your dating profile stand out online. To get started, schedule a free consultation today!