Top 10 reality checks for dating a scammer

Have you ever been involved in an internet dating scam? The internet is filled with catfish who are looking to lure innocent people into relationships and eventually scam them on the internet.

Sam Cowen invited author, Shawn Small who has written a book about internet dating to explain how you can check that you or your loved ones are not dating an internet scammer.

Below we've shared a few tips on how you can avoid ever being a victim of an internet dating scam.

1. Dumb Date Data Physical descriptions need to be proportional. Look for any other descriptions that don’t add up to the profile photo.

Tip: Ask them to take a photo holding a unique phrase or their own name on it and send it to you. Ask to have a live video talk using Skype or Facetime. Most of today’s smartphones, tablets and laptops come equipped with a built-in camera and/or video. Someone reluctant to speak on live video, claiming shyness or that they can’t find a camera, should be a red flag.

2. Profile Picture Test Professional photos are a red flag. Look for amateur photos — and more than one. Tip: Use a Google Goggles search on your phone to see if the photo they’ve shared with you can be spotted elsewhere online. If you see it shown with a watermark or in other settings like modeling websites, it’s likely a fake.

3. Become a Photo Detective Look for detail in photos — wedding rings, locations, activities, time of day, how they are dressed — to see if it matches. Someone claiming that a photo is from a July 4th fireworks party, who is dressed in a fur coat, in daylight, might be a dead giveaway that someone is lying.

Tip: Using a free inspection service that shows the location and time that a photo was originally taken can shed light on a photo liar.

4. Cut and Paste Profile Alert Introductory letters on dating websites are often copied by catfish scammers. See if the same information appears in other places or has been copied from someone else by searching for it online. Out-of-country scams often slip up here, revealing inconsistent information such as landmarks and cultural events that don’t add up. For example, someone claiming to be from Joburg who isn’t familiar with the iconic Maboneng when questioned is likely a liar.

5. Spelling and Grammar Fail Hear the words when you read their writing, and check their spelling and grammar. A line that sounds like it could be from someone in a far-off country but portraying themselves to be in your same city will usually have a local dialect misfire.

6. Derailing You from the Dating Site Red flags should be raised if, right off the bat, they want to get you to instant message or email, taking you off of the dating site where you originally met.

Tip: Always create and use a unique email address that is different than your personal and professional addresses when setting up a dating website profile.

7. Too Serious, Too Soon Watch out for someone rushing things. A catfish usually makes the first move, often out of left field and sometimes creates a bogus, dreamy profile that sounds like the ideal mate you’ve described in your own dating desires. They play on your sympathy and strike when you are the most vulnerable — caught up in the romance and emotional.

8. Ask a Lot of Questions Inquire about where they are from, and verify landmarks and spellings of cities online. Blatant errors could mean it’s a scam. Catfishers like to ask you a lot of questions, but seldom let you go deep into their lives, coming up with excuses about why they are reluctant to offer more personal information about themselves. For example, they might say, “I’ve been hurt before by telling too much too soon,” which actually turns the tables on you to prove that you can be trusted — Red flag!

9. You Are Not an ATM Machine If they ask for money, lock them out of your life. Shut off communication immediately, and close all open doors if you have a hint that it is a sympathy scam. Although most catfishers are not after money, this one should be a wake-up call to a scam.

10. Facebook Fakers At this point, if someone has no Facebook page, but they are sophisticated enough to create an online dating profile, be warned. Also look out for potential fake Facebook pages.

Signs of a fake Facebook profile can include the fact that the Facebook page was started near the same time that a dating profile elsewhere was established, if few photos are posted, or if there are no people tagged in their photos to show a connection in a relationship.

If they are on Twitter, read through historic tweets to see if the story they tell matches up to the same the person you are prospectively dating. Like Facebook, Twitter accounts created around the same time as dating profiles should be treated with caution.

  • Dr Phil.

Listen as Small shares her experiences and wisdom on internet dating below:

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