Ever wonder about the members of the different top rated online dating sites? Curious about their visitor demographics? Check out our latest research study, entitled the Demographics of Online Dating for some eye-opening information about the membership at each of the major online dating sites.
This article examines some of the newest online dating scams and how to protect yourself from those who perpetrate these all-too-clever cons. As online dating and personals sites have gone mainstream, they have provided a convenient arena in which con men (and women) can perpetrate their scams. Web Personals Online felt that it was time to warn single men and women who use online dating sites about some of these newer, more clever, and most subtle of all scams. We sincerely hope that by exposing some of these cons, we can educate and inform our audience about ways to avoid such scams. With knowledge comes power and by sharing some of the knowledge we have gained we hope that people who are new to using online dating sites will become more informed and be capable of protecting themselves.
When online dating sites were newer, some people who were unfamiliar with internet personals thought that the sites themselves could possibly scam them. While there may have been such unscrupulous sites when online dating was a new and undiscovered novelty, we think that it goes without saying that sites like Match.com, FriendFinder etc. are very large, very respectable businesses and that some of the issues that people were once worried about (i.e. fake profiles, identity theft) are a non-issue when dealing with the aforementioned sites. So, you may ask, "What are some of the newer online dating scams and how can I protect myself?"
Scam #1 - Nigerian Online Dating Scam
One of the newest cons to victimize online daters is the Nigerian Online Dating Scam. Many of us are already familiar with the Nigerian Email Fraud, whereby an innocent person receives an email in which they are asked for assistance in 'getting some funds out of some Nigerian bank account' and for which they will be paid some exorbitant amount as a reward for their assistance. The catch is that once these victims are hooked, they will be asked to fund certain 'phases' of the withdrawal process. In reality, there is no large bank account containing untold riches, it is just a way for the perpetrators to gain access to someone's personal financial information in order to defraud them. You may ask, "Why would this ever work?" The answer: "Greed."
As more and more people have become aware of the Nigerian Email Fraud and television shows like Dateline and 48 Hours have exposed these individuals for what they are, the effectiveness of the spam emails declined tremendously. These con artists had to come up with another scam and with the rapidly expanding popularity of online dating sites, they became an alternate vehicle for these perpetrators to ply their trade
How Does the Nigerian Online Dating Scam Work?
It all starts with the perpetrators joining the online personals site and posting a dating profile. The con man (yes, it is usually men who perpetrate this particular scam) finds a photo of an attractive man-not himself-and writes (or steals) a very compelling profile and then posts this on the dating site. Naturally, since the photo is usually of a model and the bio sounds too good to be true, this alone gets the perpetrator some potential victims, that is the people who fall for the bait and respond to their phony profile.
However, these Nigerian scammers are not content to sit back and wait for a likely victim to read and respond to their profile, they actively seek out those individuals who are the most vulnerable and take the initiative by contacting them first. Once contact has been made, the con artist is particularly charming, confident and seems to be a 'great catch.' Now, once some level of trust has been established between the con man and their victim, naturally the next step will be to meet in person. As we have said before in our article in which we answered the most commonly asked questions about online dating and, in particular, the question, "What is Online Dating?" the main purpose of the people who use internet personals sites is to ultimately meet offline, in person. This is where the con really begins.
Typically, the perpetrator will 'have difficulty' getting to the intended meeting. This difficulty may come in the form of being on a business trip in a foreign country and not being able to raise funds for airfare or having some problem with their bank account or credit cards. At this point the perpetrator asks the victim to either send them some funds, such as a US Postal Money Order, a cashiers check, or maybe even their credit card number-if they are brazen enough and feel that they have the intended victim sufficiently hooked-so that they will be able to make it to the rendezvous with the victim. In reality, the con artist has no intention of meeting in person. The entire scenario has been staged to defraud the victim out of their money! You may ask, "Why do people fall for this scam?" The answer: "Loneliness." Everybody want to meet and connect with another individual, a soul mate, hence the tremendous popularity of online dating sites.
Who are the most likely victims of this scam?
In general, the most common victims of this scam are women. Since the perpetrators of this scam are mainly men (i.e. the same men who perpetrated the Nigerian Email Fraud for so many years), it just makes sense that women would be the most likely victims. But the scam is even more insidious than this and the con is even more clever. It is not simply 'women' who are the most likely victims of this scam, it is a particular type of woman who the perpetrators feel would be the most gullible. The con artists generally target women who they feel have low self confidence, poor self esteem, who they feel do not get a lot of responses to their online dating profile and, therefore, will be especially receptive to their 'advances'. The perpetrators target females who do not appear to have much self-confidence (as evidenced by their own dating profiles), who they feel are not the most attractive members of the online dating site and who may be overweight or have some other type of physical limitation, or handicap. Remember, men can also be targeted by this scam, as well so please read on to see if you have been targeted by this scam.
How Do I Know If I am Being Targeted by this Scam?
Now, we believe there is someone there for everyone and that is why we continue to offer advice to online daters, regularly update this site and promote internet dating. WebPersonalsOnline.com certainly does not mean to intend that anyone who does not fit society's definition of beauty is not capable of finding love through online personals-nothing could be further from the truth. However, the ways you can tell whether you are being targeted by this fraud, include:
Online Relationship Moving too Fast - this may include
the perpetrator 'professing their love' for you after only a few email
correspondences or much too early in the 'relationship' than would seem
Accent Not Fitting Photo - the perpetrator may want to
speak to you over the phone, but during conversation you hear a distinctly
'Nigerian' accent or an accent that does not 'fit' with the photo. Be on
Desire to meet that requires your 'help' - once the con artist feels they have hooked their victim, they will express a desire to meet, but will need some type of financial assistance from you. This is the biggest RED FLAG and the point at which you should cease all communication and contact the dating site's administrator or help line.
How can individuals who use online dating sites protect themselves from this Nigerian Online Dating Scam?
The first thing that you need to do is gain knowledge about what types of scams you could potentially fall victim to. After that, you must be on the lookout for anything that seems 'out of the ordinary' as the relationship progresses. We have mentioned a few items to be conscious of, above.
The main thing to look out for, however, is the request for your financial assistance, including your personal and/or financial information. This request will usually be to facilitate a meeting between the two of you which the perpetrator will be unable to attend without your help. It could also come in the form of the perpetrator asking you for financial assistance for a sick relative or some other 'humanitarian' reason. What you need to do is be careful and continually asses whether the relationship 'seems normal' and is progressing at a 'normal pace.' It is up to you to protect yourself and you have made a wise first step by reading this article and visiting this website.
What should you do if you feel you are being targeted by this or any other of the many online dating scams?
First of all, do NOT give your personal or financial
information to anyone you have met through an online dating or personals
site. Secondly, do NOT send anyone who you met on the internet any of
your hard earned money. If you feel that the person who contacted you
could be a Nigerian con-artist, but are not sure the best course of action
is to contact the site administrator of the online dating site through
which the two of you met.
The online dating sites have technical expertise and security that will enable them to determine if the member with whom you are corresponding is legitimate or not. They can do this by running traces, reverse IP Address lookups and verifying other personal information. By contacting the site's administrator they will be able to ban this person if they are deemed to be a fraud and you will have helped protect other potential victims from a similar scam perpetrated by this individual in the future
What is the next step?
If you have been the victim of the Nigerian Online Dating Scam or know someone who has, or if you have been the victim of some other online dating scam, please contact us and provide your story. Of course, you will remain completely anonymous. We only ask that you allow us to share the scam with our readers so that we may continue to help protect our audience and enable everyone to have a more fun, exciting, and safe online dating experience. Contact us at: webpersonalsonline <at> yahoo.com and replace the <at> with @. Please use the subject: Online Dating Scam.
We will do our best to update this page with additional information, as well as other online dating scams in our continuing efforts to educate and inform our members and help make using online dating and personals sites more fun and enjoyable and safe.
Additional Information: If you would like some additional information about the email scam alluded to in the above article, please visit the following link: Nigerian Email Fraud
If anyone has information that could help other online daters become more aware of what types of scams are out there, please post your comments below. The more detail you can provide, the better. You DO NOT have to register, or use your real name or your real email address. You can remain strictly anonymous and still post comments on this article.
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