Protect yourself from online dating and romance scams with tips like verifying profile photos and not giving out personal info.
For most of us, being single is not easy. When people go online to look for love, we are not only opening our hearts but also opening ourselves up to potential trouble. Dating sites and apps are full of online dating scams or romance scams conducted by unscrupulous characters lurking to take advantage of our vulnerability.
Here are some worrisome numbers. According to the FTC, in2018 people lost in excess of $143 million dollars to romance scams. Remember,that’s only the amount that’s reported, I’m sure it’s way higher than that.Many people don’t even report these scams due to the shame associated withadmitting that they were taken advantage of.
The scams are as elaborate as you can imagine and are designed for a single purpose, to pull on your heartstrings and get you to wire them money. The most telling sign that you are dealing with a scammer is that they ask for money. The excuses are elaborate and endless and range from money for their sick mother’s hospital bill, an emergency, to their car broke down and they can’t get to work.
My segment on Despierta America about online dating and romance scams and how to protect yourself (In Spanish)
They often lie and say that they are in the military,traveling for business, that they work on an oil rig, are working with aninternational aid or medical organization or anything that helps justify toyourself the situation.
Here are some tips that will help you avoid being taken fora ride and not on the Love Boat:
How do you do that? Google has a sneaky little function called “image search”. Instead of typing a question, you start with a picture and Google will show you what it thinks matches for that picture are.
Since these profiles are fake,they have most likely stolen the picture from another dating profile of a realperson, from social media or even stock photography.
First, save a copy of the profile image from the love interest. You can right-click on the photo and save it with most browsers or take a screenshot and crop it so only the picture shows.
Once you have the picture, go to images.google.com. It looks just likethe regular Google search engine page but you’ll notice that it has a littlecamera icon right on the search box.
Click on the camera and it willgive you two options, paste an image URL or upload an image. Upload the imageyou saved and click on Search by Image.
Scroll down the page and it willgive you visually similar images and if you keep scrolling it will show youpages that include matching images. Go through these links carefully and you’llrealize right away if this is a real person or a fake profile.
If it’s a fake profile, you’ll seesocial media accounts and other pages with the same picture but under adifferent name. If this is the case, stop contact with the scammer immediately.Don’t give them a chance to explain it away. You may be vulnerable and thesepeople are experts, that’s all they do, they have talked to hundreds if notthousands of people and know exactly what to say for you to drop your defensesand justify to yourself that they are real.
In my experience and with casesthat I know of, it’s best to simply just stop all communications, even if theyturn around and start threatening you.
Don’t forget to report it to the FTC. They have set up a site where you can report this type of scam.
Never share any personal info thatcould be used to easily identify you such as your full name, address, phone numberor other social media profiles. Never tell people where you work, where youwent to school or any other info that could be used to identify you.
You met on match.com and theperson immediately asks you to start a Skype conversation or talk through Whatsappor any other messaging app, including text messages. Don’t do it until you canfigure out if this person is real.
It’s a jungle out there so be careful when you create an online profile so you are opening just your heart and not your wallet.
Learn more with this cool infographic created by the ABA foundation