The Tinder Swindler docuseries provided casual viewing entertainment for many, but for some it was a familiar sad reality. Online dating scams like this are more common than one would think. As digitalisation continues to aid in human connection through dating apps, this Macropay Scam Alert expounds on what you need to know to protect yourself from dating fraud.
What is an online dating romance scam/fraud?
To clarify, online dating fraud or a romance scam occurs when two people meet online or on an app and start talking with the hope of sparking a love match or connection. However, the person they will be talking to is actually a scammer not a potential romantic partner. The scammer is usually an expert manipulator using a fake profile. After building trust, the romantic fraud normally ends with the scammer asking for money or obtaining the victim’s personal information.
The scammer can use the personal information obtained to access the victim’s financial accounts or for identity theft. In the case of identity theft, the scammer can obtain loans and rack up credit card bills in the victim’s name.
How to spot a romance scam
This Macropay scam alert lists down the red flags that indicate potential romantic scammers early on.
1. Moving too fast
The scammer tries to rush you and moves really fast, especially to get you off the dating app. This is an attempt to avoid being flagged for unusual behaviour like send multiple users the same message. The scammer may use excuses like, “it’s easier to chat on WhatsApp.” Similarly, the scammer claims to have serious romantic intentions and indulges in some ‘love bombing’. Lavishing you with attention and compliments, in the hopes of sweeping you off your feet.
2. They ask a lot of questions
The scammer claims to “have never felt this way before” and wants to know everything about you. They ask a lot of questions and make up stories about themselves, but their stories never add up. They never want to talk about themselves and always re-directing the conversation back to you.
3. They are inconsistent or overly forgetful
The scammer spins a web of lies, often forgetting the details they previously shared. In some cases, the scammer is part of a team resulting in inconsistent details. If their stories and details are inconsistent, they are probably lying, and the reason might be to scam you.
4. They won’t video chat or meet in person
Their profile picture looks magazine worthy, but they are never available to video chat or meet in person. You can conduct a google image search to find out if they are who they say they are. A reverse image search will also reveal if the picture has been used anywhere else.
5. They ask you for money
The ultimate sign that you are probably dating a scammer is that they ask you for money. The request is usually to cover some unexpected expense or tragedy, or they are so desperate to come see you, but they can’t afford to.
What to do if you have been scammed
Victims of romantic scams often feel too ashamed to report their scammer. It is important to remember that this could happen to anyone and talking about it could help protect someone else. Macropay recommends reporting the incident to the cybercrime police unit in your city. You can also report the account on the dating app. If you shared personal or compromising information, you must notify your bank and act immediately.