The following news report interviews people who have been taken in by online dating romance scams. The news report says that these scams bring in $15 billion a year. And with much of that money reinvested into making scams better, it’s always important to be alert. Here are a few things to remember:
1) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2) If they ever ask for money and you haven’t met them, they are a scammer – even if you’ve been communicating for months.
3) Playing off the last tip – they aren’t afraid to spend months cultivating a “relationship” with you before asking for money. And they aren’t afraid to use the phone and mail to help cultivate the fake relationship.
Here’s the video (audio is a bit off)
The following short “FAQ” video provides some quick guidelines for online dating safety. The tips include:
– Use paid services to help avoid identity thieves and scammers.
– Don’t initially share identifiable information with those you communicate with.
– Use a separate anonymous email address for your online dating activity.
– Learn how to use the privacy settings of the site you are using to control who sees your profile.
Online Dating Safety Guidelines Video:
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued a warning to singles who are looking for love online. The BBB is encouraging online daters to read the contract terms of online dating services before paying for that service. Nationwide, the BBB has seen a strong increase in the number of individuals looking up online dating services. Complaints against online dating services, most dealing with billing issues, are also on the rise.
“With matchmaking contracts, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and what the service offers,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Be sure to read all agreements, guarantees, and instructions before signing and be wary of vaguely worded provisions, exclusions or limitations which could pose a problem later.”
Jean Rhodes of Evanston said of her experience: “She made me feel like a loser. I told her that I was not interested in signing up and she asked me ‘Would your mother want to see you single?’ She pushed me at a weak moment and I signed up. She told me that she had three people that were appropriate right now. I spent $2995.00 and ended up getting only one date with a guy that I had nothing in common with.”
Barbara McCarthy of Hoffman Estates, who also complained said, “They promised me 33 matches and I am not sure if I ever hit that number. They said that I would meet all high caliber men that would meet me in nice restaurants. Actually, I think that they just tried to set me up with anyone alive and moving. One guy showed up for dinner with no teeth and gummed his food.”
Those looking to find love via an online dating service most often complained about:
– Dissatisfaction with the number of arranged dates. Matchmaking services often say they have a database of thousands of singles in the area and promise a minimum number of dates; however, complaints show they often failed to deliver. One complainant reported to only have received three referrals over a 12 month period, significantly less than what was promised.
– Available singles not up to par. Often consumers said they were matched with singles that did not meet their specified criteria-common complaints include that singles they were set up with were smokers when they specified nonsmokers or lived too far away from prospective matches.
– Poor or rude customer service and high pressure sales tactics. Some complainants reported being pressured by sales associates into signing up for matchmaking services. Complainants reported being yelled at, others were told to not be so picky, and many said they were completely ignored.
The dating services industry is divided into two categories: personalized matchmaking companies and online dating Web sites. The two services take a different approach to helping people find compatibility and as a result, the types of complaints to the BBB differ.
Another complainant, Mary Ann Tracy of Carol Stream said, “I felt pressured to sign up because they said I had to decide within a certain amount of hours. They never even gave me a copy of the contract I signed. I paid several thousand dollars and they only came up with two referrals. I wasn’t interested in either of them. I tried to get a refund but they gave me the runaround and stopped taking my calls.”
To avoid a bad experience the BBB offers the following advice:
– Do your homework. Check out the company with the BBB to make sure it has a history of satisfying customers and resolving complaints.
– Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Sales associates may tell people that a low price is only good for that day and ask them to sign a contract immediately. Take the contract home, read it carefully and make sure it clearly states what you are signing and paying for.
-Know the contract terms. Consumers should not assume that they will stop being billed once the contract runs out. Some dating services automatically renew memberships and there are steps that must be taken, such as calling the company, to prevent being billed again.
A new study of teenagers has produced some enlightening results that also bring to the forefront why you can’t always believe what a person puts in their online dating profiles.
The survey, done by Kidscape in the UK, found that many teens are happier online than in real life. And in what supports other studies, many lie online too. A different survey several years ago by Keynote found that the majority of online daters tell lies in their online dating profiles – some little white lies and others bigger lies.
A comment by one of the teens that took the survey also sums up what you must be careful with online. The teen said:
“It’s easier to be who you want to be, because nobody knows you and if you don’t like the situation you can just exit and it is over.”
Many online daters complain that they were communicating with someone online and that person just “disappeared” and they never heard from the person again. This is not unusual.
“Online dating is very popular with Americans and with people around the world. Some argue it is the way most of us will meet our romantic partners in the future,” says Hancock. “Understanding how these online profiles work is important, especially when it comes to deception and trust.”
Jeff Hancock, Cornell associate professor of communication, has also conducted research into online dating profile lies. The study found:
“Liars psychologically distanced themselves from their deceptions by producing fewer self-references and more negations. They also wrote shorter self-descriptions, presumably in an effort to avoid contradictions with prior profile statements.
A surprising result was that liars produced fewer, rather than more, negative emotion words. This could be due to the fact that people who lied more were more eager to make a good impression, and thus avoided sounding negative – which is usually a turnoff in dating situations. Future work is needed to clarify the nature of this indicator.”
“Online dating is very popular with Americans and with people around the world. Some argue it is the way most of us will meet our romantic partners in the future. Understanding how these online profiles work is important, especially when it comes to deception and trust.”
It’s not easy to spot when someone is lying, but it’s important to understand that computers are showing you a persona (online dating profile) created by someone who may not be being entirely honest. Romance scams and online dating scams thrive on this reality. Scammers know they can produce a 100% fake persona then use that throughout their scams that can last several months. They try to get you to fall in love with the persona they created to use that to eventually get money from you. There will always be “promises of meeting” but no actual meeting.
How can you avoid falling into such traps?
1) Look to date people only in your city who are close enough to meet.
2) Don’t continue communicating with someone who says they are out of state (on business, etc.)
3) If a person keeps making excuses not to meet then stop communicating with them. It’s likely a scam or person that is married.
4) Run your own background check on someone once you learn their full name. There’s also the popular Googling of someone.
5) When meeting someone, meet in a public place and make sure friends and family know where you are and who you are with.
What’s important to remember is that what you read is not necessarily the reality. And if you find, when meeting someone, that they told white lies in their profile (height, etc.) then keep in mind that if you continue to date them, the lies will carry over into your relationship.
Ultimately you want to meet someone online that is honest from the start. There are millions out there – it just sometimes takes some digging and research to find them.
This video by Crimewatch is an in-depth look at online dating scams and exactly how they work. They start by providing some facts about scams then reenact a story of a person who was scammed. It’s a really well done piece that everyone who does online dating should watch. It’s important to be aware how online dating scams work and the lengths a scammer will go to in order to eventually get money from you. Scammers don’t usually ask for money right off the bat. They first woo you and get you to fall in love with the fake persona they set up. They’ll even have phone conversations to help build the relationship.
Crimewatch: Online Dating Scams