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Online Dating Scams Are Everywhere! 7 Ways Seniors Can Stay Safe

On this episode of DETANGLED:

 

It has been a while since you’ve been dating, and you’re considering getting back on the market. Well, good for you! But bear in mind that online dating isn’t what it used to be. Nowadays, you can become the victim of an online scam faster than finding a mate. While I have never used a dating app, I have many friends who have been the victims of online scams. The worst thing about online scammers is that they actually seem to be exactly what you’ve always wanted, so…be careful!

If you wish to meet new people and even start a relationship during retirement, there are many online dating sites and apps available. You could try creating a profile that includes your picture and other basic details about your interests and personality.

You could also search for other potential matches, and even connect with others through the right platform. Online dating services might offer you the chance of finding a new match, but you should know that there are also risks involved.

Scammers can easily set up a profile and try their best to convince you they’re real and they’re super infatuated with you, especially if you seem extremely trusting. As seniors are oftentimes considered to be financially secure, thieves are focused on this demographic. To avoid other scams when you’re dating online, there are a couple of things you need to know:

online scam
Photo by serpeblu from Shutterstock

Check on any suspicious activity

If you feel that something’s not quite right when you’re talking to someone you’ve met online, you should do some research on your own. You could look for the individual’s other public accounts, like their social media handles, to see if they exist outside that dating app.

Evaluate their LinkedIn page (this way you can find out what they do), or even their Facebook page, to see if other profiles match their dating profile. If there’s no social media presence, and they don’t have other friends or followers, then you should start wondering if they have a fake identity.

If you think you might be a victim of financial fraud, you should get help from others. If you believe that you might be the victim of a romance scam, then you should block the scammer right away on all forms of communication.

Also, tell someone you trust what happened, and make sure you report the scam to that online dating app you’ve been using. If you’ve “met” your scammer there, they should do something about it.

Make sure it’s not the “military romance” scam

Even the United States Army took this matter into their hands: they declared that they receive hundreds of reports every month about online tricksters who assume the identity of actual military personnel on social media or online dating sites.

They also build a trusting relationship with you and answer any of your questions related to military life, but somehow, when it’s time for you to meet them, they get deployed. Then, they ask you for some money, just to help them pay unresolved medical or legal costs, to return home, or for any other reasons.

It gets worse: sometimes, you might see that they’re working with accomplices who pose as doctors or even lawyers, to make the story even stronger.

Meet in a safe setting

Keeping initial conversations only on online dating platforms might help you stay protected. When you take things privately on one of your social platforms, you might be at risk of clicking on a virus or other malware.

If someone contacts you and wants to talk “somewhere else”, you should think about the risks. I’m not saying this means 100% that you’re talking with a scammer, but it’s just something that you should consider before deciding on anything.

When you finally set up an in-person get-together, make sure you look for a public place. Then, agree to meet in a coffee shop or a busy restaurant where other people are present. Also, you could announce to someone you trust that you will be at that location and how long you plan to stay.

scam
Photo by fizkes from Shutterstock

Focus on local connections

For instance, if you’re currently living in New Hampshire, but you start talking to someone who allegedly lives in California, the relationship is complicated from the start. In this case, time and distance are a scammer’s two best friends, so to speak.

You can’t reach them, which is exactly what they want. When a scammer uses these two variables to get money from you, it means that you will give them all the time they need to get what they want out of you, without worrying that they’ll ever get caught.

That’s why you should also consider the region when you start dating people online. The best rule of thumb is not to search for matches somewhere you can’t visit at least twice a week. Not only it will set you up for better potential relationships, but it will also protect you from anyone who might be using a distance-based dating scam.

Make sure you’re not just a Target

Burglars look for a home with open windows, bad lighting, and no alarm system whatsoever. In the same way, dating scammers prey on the easiest targets. They look for people who talk about how generous they are, mention how they’re looking to fill a hole in their life, or maybe move on after losing a spouse.

Anything that might imply that you’re extremely vulnerable might increase your risk of getting scammed. At least at first, you should avoid discussing various topics like loneliness or heartbreak when you connect with a potential match.

Make your profile as positive as possible, with no mention of any past relationship. The bright side is that you could also benefit from this if there’s no scammer involved, as it will also make you more attractive to real matches!

scam suspicious
Photo by Pla2na from Shutterstock

Protect your data

When you meet someone online, you want to make sure you won’t share too many details, especially if they’re all related to your identity. It’s highly important not to give out too much personal info, like your phone number or address, at least not until you’ve met this person.

Why? You will make the scammer’s job much easier, as they always thrive when they have multiple ways of contacting their victim. Also, when you create a new account, use strong passwords, and make sure you keep your social media accounts free of references to your pet’s name, house size, or even financial situation.

If someone makes a move on you way too soon, this might be a strong indicator that you need to back away. Scammers will always be open to “relationships”, as they depend on people falling in love with them. They could move to personal information and private confessions faster than you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, it’s all wrapped up as “love”.

Learn what are the financial risks

Have you ever heard about the sweetheart scam? It’s also known as the romance scam, and it usually occurs when a scammer finds someone through social apps and rapidly built a connection with them, but then a horrible thing happens and they rapidly need a lot of money, so they ask you, their newly-found love interest.

If you want to spot a common sign of a sweetheart scam, check if you’re being flooded with excessive flattery or even affection from the first days of your new relationship. If so, consider that it might be just an effort to manipulate you into giving away money.

Also, these scammers might have rather poor grammar and spelling, and they refuse to talk on video. They also share constant excuses as to why you’ve never seen them in person. The individual could ask for a gift card or even a temporary advance. Even worse, they could request that you send them a check to a specific address.

If you’re glad you found this article ( it’s good to read this before dating anybody online), then you should also try this one: 6 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Senior Dating

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