No one wants to think they could be taken advantage by an internet dating scam, and yet hundreds of thousands of people are every single year. In fact, the US Embassy to Russia receives reports every single day from people concerned they've been scammed by a Russian single looking for love, and the U.S. Postal Service has created a video about the same topic on its FakeChecks.org website.
So how do you avoid falling prey to an internet dating scam in the first place? Take heed of the following red flags and you'll be much more aware, prepared and ready should someone try and take advantage of you.
Have you ever exchanged emails with someone you met through an internet dating site, just to wonder if its the same person who is replying to your messages each time? Or perhaps you've briefly thought to yourself that the person on the other end of the communication really needs to employ a spell-checker.
Neither of these email discrepancies are cause for alarm; a lot of people aren't very good with spelling and grammar, and they may be writing English as a second language. But if more than one of the following email discrepancies pop up during the course of your communications, it may be an internet dating scam.
It can be very heady to have an ongoing email chat with someone who is focused entirely on you. In fact, this is a great sign that the person on the other end of the conversation is truly interested and invested in learning more about who you are.
Where the danger lies however, is not their interest in you as a person, but rather that they don't offer any detailed, personal information about themselves in return, or doesn't really answer your emails in a personal manner, but rather changes the topic with each contact.
Appropriate responses are integral to determining whether or not the relationship you are creating is based in reality and not a potential internet dating scam. Could the person emailing you be merely copying and pasting responses from a pre-determined outline or script, or do their emails really seem to "get" you and offer some sort of individualized attention?
Most singles who have tried meeting people from online dating sites have come across this telltale internet dating scam sign: being asked to either cash someone's check or money order for them, or being asked outright for money. The story varies somewhat with each internet dating scam, but the intention remains the same: robbing you of your hard earned cash.
If somebody asks you to wire them cash online - no matter what the reason, no matter how plausible or sad it sounds - don't. But if you feel compelled to do it anyway, at least read FraudAid's legal responsibility page, first. It details the ramifications you may face should you choose this route, no matter where you or the internet dating scam artist lives.
Although cliche, the saying holds true for internet dating scams: if the person's photo looks too good to be true, that's because it probably is.
Of course models, actors and other extremely attractive people want to find love too, and you may very well have lucked out in the attractiveness category with the person you are communicating with online. But if your online date also falls into one of the other internet dating scam categories listed here, then you may want to do a bit more investigating, first.
Side note: Just went through a grueling conversation with a niave friend that is being sucked in by such a scam. After being told "I am annoying and paranoid", I came across this site and I uploaded the gentleman's photo in question. The photo was traced back to scams dating to 2004, same photos, different stories, and alias, too many to count! Guess I will really be on her shit list tomorrow when she reads all the dirt I have dug up.
It is also recommended that you do not inform the perpetrator of where he/she is listed, as this jeopardises the site and many after doing so, have received death threats from these "personalities". There are internet fraud divisions with the local police, FBI and the like that will investigate such crimes.