Dating in the modern era is tricky. It feels like everyone is isolated in their own bubble, and it’s hard to break through and get to know the person across the table from you. Instead, some people use online dating, opting to use the convenience of technology to widen their search and find people to get to know in their area.
However, you might run into scammers when you’re using online dating sites. Some con artists love to use images of attractive people as the front for their dating site scams, tricking victims out of money, or worse. Here are some signs to look out for when you’re using online dating sites.
The practice of using someone else’s picture as your own on an online dating profile is called “catfishing.” People who do this are usually just vying for attention, but sometimes this practice hides much more nefarious intent.
Sometimes, catfishing is specific. Someone who wants to embarrass or scam you will make a profile of someone the scammer knows you will find irresistible. The catfisher will pursue you online but avoid meeting you in person. That’s the first red flag.
The surest way to sidestep the worst online dating scams is to ask the person to video chat with you. Appearing on camera in a brightly lit room makes it somewhat difficult to hide things. For instance, if the person you’re talking to online seems to be someone close to your age, but they look much older or younger in a video chat, something is probably off.
People who routinely avoid appearing on camera, claiming they’re shy, might not be sketchy. They could really be camera shy! With these people, ask to meet in person in a public area, like a coffee shop, so that you can get to know each other. If they’re still hesitant, then it might be time to move on, as this person could be stringing you along.
Never send money over the internet to someone you don’t know that well. A person who claims to want to visit you if you buy them a plane ticket could be using you to travel to a city without needing to pay for airfare. No matter what you do, don’t send any funds or gifts to people you’ve met online, even if you’re pretty sure they’re the real deal. Some con artists are particularly good at playing the long game and will string you on for weeks or even months before springing their scam.