Archive for October, 2011

Are you the Victim of a Romance Scam? Questions to Ask Yourself:

Dating today can be very stressful. Not only do you have to watch out for your heart, your sanity, and that guy with the weird fetish, but with the advancement in popularity of online dating sites comes a new fear to add to the mix: having to worry about scammers trying to empty your wallet. Awesome.

Romance scams defined:  Romance scams are confidence tricks by money hungry con-artists involving faux-romantic intentions toward a vulnerable victim, thereby gaining their trust and affection and in return using that goodwill to commit evil acts of fraud.  In most cases these fraudulent acts involve access to money, bank accounts, credit cards and passports of the scammer’s prey.

The signs of a romance scam:  Fortunately, the key to staying clear of such a disaster is education.  By knowing what a romance scam is and being able to recognize the tell-tale signs that come with it, you will be a savvy-internet dater who can avoid those scamming scumbags on the web.

If you are involved with someone who you feel might be on the shady end of the internet dater spectrum, ask yourself the following questions.  If you answer yes to the majority, the likelihood is high that a scammer is trying to squeeze your bank account dry:

  • Do they contact you first?
  • In your initial contact with them did they offer you a means of chatting other than through the dating site? (i.e. personal email)
  • Does their profile picture resemble a model or someone extremely above average? Like perhaps it was taken from a magazine?
  • Does their alleged age/gender/race not match their picture?
  • Do they only have a profile picture and no others?
  • Is their spelling/grammar atrocious, not aligned with their supposed background/education level, and reminiscent of a 2nd grader’s?
  • Do they claim to be a U.S. citizen just out of the country for work?
  • Do they claim to be American but have a foreign accent when you speak to them on the phone?
  • Do they respond to your emails with subjects that have zero to do with what you sent them?
  • Is their alleged last name something very generic like Jones, Williams or Smith?
  • Did they fall in love with you freakishly fast and profess their feelings of loyalty and undying devotion?
  • Are they sending gifts like flowers right away?
  • Do they seem unfamiliar with their supposed home town or country?
  • Do they give you sob stories like a family member died, medical problems, or other similar hardships?
  • Do they blatantly ask you for money to assist them with their troubles?
  • Do they ask you for your bank account details?
  • If you enter their email address in a Google search, does it return results associated with scams?

What to do if you’ve been scammed.  So it’s confirmed.  The “wonderful” person you’ve been pouring your heart and soul out to over the internet turns out to not be who they said they were. In fact, they are a lying, thieving con-artist not after your love, but your assets.  Whether you’re just in communication with them or they’ve already made off with your hard-earned dough, here are the steps you need to take:

  • Cease all contact immediately.  Block the scammer and do not respond to emails, chats, calls, etc.  Do not try to catch the scammer on your own—this is a job for the appropriate authorities.
  • Alert the dating site.  Be sure to let the dating site that connected you and the scammer of the situation.  Any reputable company will take action and remove the scammer’s fake dating profile to save other online daters like yourself from being victimized.
  • Alert the authorities.  File a complaint with your local police.  Be able to provide them with proof such as emails, text messages, letters or anything else that shows that the con-artist requested money.  They will then gather more information from the involved dating site and hopefully arrest the criminal who stole money from you. In some lucky situations, you may even see your money again.

7 Clues for Spotting Married Men on Dating Sites

In this day in age, the internet can be a very rewarding place where you can meet a lot of great men.  However, there is the possibility of meeting some that aren’t so great…some who are signed up to online dating services claiming a status of “single” when in fact they are married and one cheat away from an episode of Jerry Springer.

To avoid falling into the hands of a man who may have slipped off his wedding ring for an internet fling, watch for the following tell-tale signs:

Clue #1:  Zero picture.  If your guy doesn’t have an online dating profile picture or one that is difficult to make out, beware.  The majority of married men don’t want a picture of themselves online for the world to see, heightening the chances of getting caught.  Instead of posting their photo on a dating site, they may ask to send it to you via personal email.

Clue #2:  He will make first contact.  In most cases, married men will be the first to send the initial contact through the online dating service you are using.  A lot of these men tend to look for someone who seems trusting, naïve and who can be easily manipulated.  They will seek out such vulnerabilities by asking a lot of questions immediately so they can determine if you are an easy target or not.

Clue #3:  Irregular and erratic communication.  If you find that your internet guy responds to your messages in an irregular manner…mark this as a red flag.  Married men have family lives and obligations to their wives so they may not be as available as men who are actually single.  Watch out for late responses, long intervals between communications or even calling on a very set schedule.  Ask yourself a few questions—does he only call you on his work breaks?  Late at night?  Are the calls frequent or do they fluctuate?  From where is he calling?

Clue #4:  He requests your phone number, but won’t give you his.  It is not unusual for married men to ask for your number shortly after the initial contact.  Don’t be afraid to ask for his number in return.  If he is unwilling to give it, you might not want to go there.  Most men who have nothing to hide won’t have a problem sharing both their cell and home number as they want to be available to hear from you.

Clue #5: You can never reach him.  If you do have his number and are constantly having to leave a message when you call, this could be a sign of a problem…like a marriage.  Watch out if you have to wait hours or even days before he calls you back.  And when he finally does there is some sort of elaborate excuse.  Of course, there is a chance that he really has other things going on and he’s not cheating on a wife, but regardless you don’t deserve that kind of inconsistency—call it quits, sister!

Clue #6:  He won’t share info with you.  When first communicating with an online gentleman it is crucial not to give out too much information…but when you get to a certain point where you feel safe and comfortable in disclosing more about yourself and he is unwilling to do the same with you, we have another red flag.  Many married men won’t give out their last names in fear that you could look them up and discover their true, cheating identity.  If he won’t tell you where he lives, works, etc. there is a good chance he is hiding something from you—like a wife!

Clue #7:  You never get to meet his friends or family.  Maybe your relationship has progressed to the point where you want to share it with your friends and family—that is great!  Unless he acts strange about introducing you to the people close to him.  Men who are cheating on their wives obviously can’t have any family members or close friends finding out about their extra-marital affairs…so if your guy is dishing out excuses about why you can’t meet his circle of people then you need to proceed with caution!