Dating site scams are on the rise, impacting hundreds of thousands in the US alone. The FBI received more than 350,000 complaints from romance scam victims in 2018. Cybercriminals want to take advantage of lonely and vulnerable people, who they see as easy targets.
Here are the most common dating site scams today.
Catfishing has been the most common scam for quite some time. These people create fake profiles to get as many matches on dating platforms as possible. Signs of a catfish are magazine-quality pictures and a very new profile on the dating site or very few friends on social media. In addition, they don’t want to video chat or meet in real life.
There is no proof that the person is a catfish, even if all of the signs are present. To be sure, do a reverse image search on the photos on their dating profile to see if they appear anywhere else online, like another person’s social media account or a stock photo site.
This scam is where the criminal will pretend to care about the victim and eventually get them to send sex pictures or videos performing intimate acts. Then, they use these videos or pictures to try to get money out of the victim. Like catfish, they don’t want to be seen on video, so if you get on a video call, they will say their camera doesn’t work. They might ask for full-body nudes, also.
It’s very easy to reveal someone’s identity today, so this scam can have serious repercussions for the victim.
3. Pretending to be outside your country
The next most common scam is where someone pretends to be abroad. They’ll say they live abroad, they’re in the army, or they are a doctor working for an international organization. Eventually, they will ask you for money to pay for documents and a plane ticket to visit you.
Use a people finder site to confirm they really are in the military or a doctor working for a global organization.
4. Cryptocurrency scams
The online dating landscape has become home to crypto scammers and a new type of scam called “pig butchering.” The scammer expresses love, support, and flattery toward the victim before engaging in the actual scam, which involves crypto. They might share a link to an “investment” or tell you how successful their investment in a given cryptocurrency has been.
The victim proceeds to buy cryptocurrency on a legitimate website, like Binance or Coinbase, then transfers it to another site recommended by the scammer. This site is not legitimate but appears to be, with charts showing the value of the crypto in real time.
When the victim starts investing, they might be able to withdraw some money, so they begin to trust the fake platform. Eventually, the victim will invest more money, and that’s when the butchering part happens. The name of the scam refers to how farmers fatten pigs up before slaughtering them.
The scammer steals all the money and cuts off communication with the victim. Don’t take any investment advice on a dating site.
5. Ransomware scams
Finally, some people sign up on dating sites with the goal of spreading ransomware or other malware. They send the victim links to another site, such as a service or game they recommend. When someone clicks on it, they are redirected to a site that contains ransomware, and the cybercriminal steals their personal data.
Signs of a site that contains malware include typos or grammatical errors on the homepage or a shortened URL that conceals the real site.
Signs a device has been infected with some kind of malware are if it starts to crash or restart randomly or works at a much slower rate.
Telltale signs of a scam
Beware of people who ask for money on dating sites. There are other ways to obtain loans. Don’t give money to someone you haven’t met in person – you’ll never see it again. If someone asks for money, block and report them to the site.
Limited number of pictures
Blurry images, very few images, or just one can be a cause for concern when you’re dating online. Photos that seem too good to be true are also suspicious. While there are attractive single people out there, it’s just as likely to be a scam.
Spelling mistakes and bad grammar
A lot of spelling mistakes and bad grammar might mean the person isn’t a native speaker of English, which is no reason to reject someone. If they claim to be British, American, etc., then it’s probably a scam. Many scammers are from other countries, so you should keep an eye out for strange uses of words and broken English.