You've seen the stories on Dateline or in the news. Lonely women who become victims to dating scammers. I'm always a bit dismayed that there are women out there that can't spot the signs. I guess when you are looking through rose colored glasses...
I first came across a dating scammer years ago on Match.com. He had attractive pictures and was conversational. He was also (supposedly) working overseas, so he wasn't available for an actual meet.
I just ran across another one over the last month. It always takes a while to figure out they are scammers. Oh, I don't even let them get as far as asking for money. I have them figured out way before that. Still, there are several signs I'd thought I'd share.
1) Few pictures. They only have 1-2 pictures in their profile and they are attractive, but not super attractive.
2) Poor spelling and/or grammar. In this day and age of emails and text messaging with emojis and acronyms, we have become very forgiving for occasional poor spelling and grammar. So this is a sign, but not necessarily enough to be a red flag right out of the gate.
3) Flowery or strange language. Flowery language just seems like trying too hard. But more often it's a matter of the sentence structure doesn't flow like the way we talk here in America. A sure sign of a foreigner. Many of these scams are coming out of Africa, just like the lottery winning scams.
4) All about you, nothing about themselves. If getting any more information about their lives, likes, and dislikes is like pulling teeth, it's a sure sign. Instead they will focus all on you and how wonderful you are and all your interests. Or, they'll ask you about what you are looking for in a man so they can be all those things.
5) They Google you. Expanding on #4, if you have a good presence on the internet, whether via articles, news items, or profiles on public sites, they have plenty of information to use. Because of this blog I do have a lot if you search for me on Google. It was actually this one that was the red flag for me to know they were a scammer. He started talking about how he wanted to open a restaurant one day (setting up for asking for money later??), how he knew about SactoMoFo and Sacfoodtrucks (even though he's supposedly in the Bay area, not local), and how his daughter was going to turn 13 on my December birth date. I'm sorry, but a parent says their child is 12, not that their child is going to be 13 on December X when it's only February.
6) They often have a pre-teen daughter. I guess they seem it makes them look like an awesome dad. Why daughters and not sons? Have no idea. But both of my cases had 12 year old daughters...supposedly.
7) They won't meet. They might say they are nearby, but will conveniently cancel or be a no show at any arranged meet. Thank god I never reached this point that I was investing time to wait for a scammer.
8) They ask you to use the Whatsapp app to communicate. While Whatsapp is a legitimate app used by thousands or millions of people, it is particularly used for international communication because it uses little data by using wi-fi instead. Many people use it to communicate with family and friends in other countries. But it's also a preferred method for those foreign scammers.
9) Their email address is suspect. It turns out there are a lot of anonymous email sites out there and a few are particularly favored by these foreign scammers. In my case, the email was @contractor.net. I searched for a contractor.net website to no avail, but then I came across an article talking about how contractor.net is often used by scammers.
There are many companies that provide free email services and most people use them for legitimate purposes. However, because there is no charge and hence no need for a verifiable billing address, bank account or credit card, these accounts are fairly anonymous. That and easy access from ubiquitous internet cafes means such accounts are often abused by criminals who send variants of the "419" scam. Most of these emails are sent from Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa and various cities in Europe with West African residents as well as various places in Asia. By reporting the scam accounts to the webmail providers you can usually get them closed.In the end it took me about a week to figure out this latest guy was a scammer. I started getting suspicious after the second email that was lacking any more details about him. His last email, with my same birth date, was the clincher. Yet I know there are hundreds of women that are lonely and hopeful for love that they fall for these.
I reported the guy to the dating app and they removed his profile.
10. Don't trust the phone or Skype. Remember, anyone can get a Google Voice phone number or can Skype you from anywhere in the world. That's why it's best to keep close to home and make them meet you in person!
11. Reverse search their photos! This is a trick bloggers use to see who has stolen our food photographs but it works great for checking on possible scammers. Just used it today, in fact and SCORE! When you click on an image, especially in Google Chrome, you can choose Search Google for Image. Sure enough, today's guy came up as a some model in Florida with a different name. I then went to Facebook and looked him up and found more pictures of him in more casual scenes - family. So the scammer used those to look more legit. Reported him!