No one would argue with the fact that the internet has completely revolutionised the way we live. Whether shopping or job hunting of Online Scams, the digital world has the capacity to facilitate our wants and needs from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to sleep. This has been particularly useful throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns and border closures have forced people to stay indoors for months on end.
Once the novelty of wearing pyjamas to work and ordering takeaway food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner wore off, many people began to realise that staying inside 24 hours a day was not all fun and games. A lot of the normal activities that we took for granted were now impossible — like dating.
Once again, technology came to the rescue. Online dating is by no means a new invention. Websites like OKCupid, eharmony and RSVP have been bringing together lonely hearts since the very beginning of the internet. However, apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge really took off during the pandemic when it became quickly apparent that swiping left and right was the only way any of us would be meeting someone new.
The world of online dating has always been a target for cybercriminals. People who are looking for love often become very emotionally involved in a situation, and tend to look past classic warning signs that something is not right with the person on the other end of their screen. Romance scams are particularly devastating as victims are left not only out of pocket, but also with a broken heart.
Online scams that target dating apps are becoming more common and more sophisticated. A new match is always exciting but in order to protect yourself online, check for these classic warning signs before exchanging any personal details or arranging to meet someone in person.
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Their profile picture looks a little too good to be true
Dating apps are a little superficial in nature. You scroll through a few photos of someone, scan their bio information and make a snap judgement whether you want to chat (swipe right) or have absolutely no interest in getting to know them (swipe left).
Cybercriminals take advantage of this superficiality by creating fake profiles full of stock images of very good looking people. The backgrounds of these images are often plain and they are unlikely to contain any friends or family.
You can easily check on the validity of a photo by saving it and performing a reverse image search. This will quickly direct you to similar photos on the web. If reverse image searching your new match brings up a stock website or social media accounts under a completely different name, immediately block their account.
They give excuses every time you want to meet on Online Scams
Online dating can be hard, particularly when it comes time to take your digital romance into the real world. Dating apps have a reputation for encouraging flaky behaviour, also known as ‘ghosting’. Someone who you spend weeks talking to can suddenly disappear overnight, with no explanation.
While some people struggle with commitment, or get anxious at the thought of meeting their date in person, scammers will never budge on their refusal to link up in real life. They will avoid phone calls and video calls (often claiming that they have a poor internet connection or are just really busy at the moment) and will always change the subject when you bring up the possibility of going on a real date.
Online Scams : They ask for money
Most scammers have moved on from imitating Nigerian princes who are asking for money. That doesn’t mean they aren’t keen to drain your bank accounts and steal your credit card information.
Knowing that they have duped their victim into establishing an emotional connection, many cybercriminals will then concoct a long-winded and often devastating personal story that ends with a request for financial help. They may claim that they need a certain amount of money to help with a visa application or that they have a huge inheritance waiting for them but require a lump sum to unlock it.
Avoid falling for these stories. Simply block and report the account — you’ll be helping future victims, too.
They offer you money
This type of scam often surprises people, who are expecting to be asked for money rather than offered it.
Having established a good relationship, cybercriminals are luring victims in with the promise of investment opportunities and trading schemes. They establish themselves as financial experts and encourage their online matches to download fake trading apps, providing hot investing tips and information about potential returns on investments.
Any money that is invested goes straight into the pocket of the scammer. Practise good internet security by always fully investigating a situation before being told to download special apps and software. If a situation seems too good to be true, it probably is.
They suggest chatting on other platforms
A lot of people don’t like chatting on dating apps. This can be because of the app’s interface, functionality, or oftentimes they just find it more convenient to use an established social media platform like Instagram or Facebook.
If someone who you have been talking to for a few weeks asks if they can send you a follow request, it does not necessarily mean that they are a scammer. However, you should be wary of anyone who provides a direct link to their Facebook or Instagram account and asks you to access it through the dating app. This is a classic scam warning sign. The link will probably take you to a site ridden with malware, which will result in your device being infected with viruses and other types of nasties of Online Scams.
You should also be wary of providing access to your own social media accounts. This kind of behaviour can result in identity theft.
Online dating is the new norm, with hundreds of thousands of happy couples across the world having met their partner online. That doesn’t mean that dating apps are without risk. Always consider the fact that the person you are talking to is not necessarily who they say they are, employ good internet security habits, and above all, prioritise your safety and wellbeing.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.