With the rise of the digital world, online dating has become a reality for millions of Americans.
But with the convenience of dating apps and social media, there comes a cost. Romance scams involve a person with a fake dating or social media profile that convinces unsuspecting victims of their love and devotion, while getting as much money from them as possible.
Seniors are primary targets of this scam, because they often have a nice nest egg, and may be recent widows, widowers, or divorcees struggling with loss.
How can you avoid these scams? Follow our tips below to keep your online dating experience fun and safe.
1. Be wary of bad grammar – It’s one thing to use slang and emojis, it’s another to not be able to put an error-free sentence together. Often sweetheart scammers are operating outside the U.S., so pay attention to lookout for grammatical errors and misspelled words.
2. Be wary of eager and early devotion – If they tell you they love you after three days of chatting online and you haven’t even met in person, proceed with caution. Or don’t proceed at all.
3. Do your research – A quick Google search of their name and some social media snooping should give you a clear impression if this person is real, or a catfish. Remember to reverse search their social media profile images through Google as well.
4. Meet in person – The only way to completely get to know someone is meeting them in person; remember to meet in a public safe place until you feel comfortable otherwise. If your “sweetheart” refuses to meet in person, take it as a sign that it’s probably best you never meet.
5. Be wary of requests for money – Strangers asking for money or favors is always a red flag. NEVER send a stranger money, and consult with your trusted friends and family members if you are unsure of an online relationship.
If you feel like you’ve been the victim of a sweetheart scam, or other scams, call us at 800.593.8222. Make sure to also report it to the FTC , the FBI (Internet Crime Center), and the dating app or social media platform you used.