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Online Dating Scams: Things You Need to Know & How to Avoid Them

August 3, 2021
Online Dating Scams: Things You Need to Know & How to Avoid Them

While we'd like to think every online dating member  is authentic, the unfortunate reality is that online dating scams exist - and they're sometimes pretty smart.

We're not talking here about your random email from a "Nigerian prince" who desperately needs your help to wire $1 trillion to the UK; we're talking about subtle scams from fraudsters who play the long game.

The Best10DatingGuide team has compiled this guide to help you spot and avoid online dating scams among the love struck matches and help you avoid dating scams that could leave you worse off than with a dented ego.

The 9 Most Common Types Of Online Dating Scams

Romance Scams

Romance scams are one of the most common and emotionally damaging types of online dating scams. In a romance scam, someone creates a false identity on an online dating site or social network and starts connecting with others in order to build up a false romantic relationship. The perpetrators of these scams pose as attractive potential partners in order to lure their victims into a false sense of security.

They often claim to be someone from another country and tell stories of hardships or tragedy to gain sympathy and trust, before asking you to send money or personal information.

To protect yourself from romance scams, it is important to never send money to someone you have met online and always be suspicious of anyone who requests personal information or financial help.

Additionally, if the person claims to live in another country, do not give out any personal details until you are sure they are who they claim to be.

Escrow Services Dating Scam

Online dating Escrow Services Fraud is a type of scam perpetuated by individuals who use online dating platforms to take advantage of those looking for meaningful relationships. This type of fraud involves the dating scammer requesting payment for services such as background checks, travel costs, or temporary relocation, typically via money transfer services such as Western Union.

In many cases, once the money has been sent, the victim will never hear from their con artist again. The scammer may even delete their dating profile once they have received payment.

To avoid this type of fraud, users should always be suspicious of requests for money or services, especially when made by someone who they have only just met online.

Additionally, it is important to never give out any personal or financial information to someone you have never met in person before.

Finally, it is always best to pay for services with a credit card rather than through money transfer services. This way, if something does go wrong, victims can seek chargeback protection from their card issuer.

Investment / Money Muling

Investment / Money Muling scams are one of the most common types of online dating scams. It is a form of fraud where the dating scammer uses their victims' bank accounts to transfer money for criminal activities or to hide their own ill-gotten funds.

The scammer may offer a large payout, usually in exchange for a small upfront payment or personal information, in order to lure the victim into their scheme. Once the victim is hooked, they are coerced into making a large sum of money transfer into their own bank account which is then used for various criminal activities or kept by the scammer.

The victims may be asked to open a new bank account to receive these transfers and can often find themselves in a vicious cycle of being asked to transfer more and more money. The victims may also be asked to give sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card details, and other confidential information which can be used for identity theft.

It is important to remember that any request for money or sensitive information should be treated with suspicion and disregarded immediately.

Phishing Emails

The phishing email scam involves criminals sending out mass emails, pretending to be someone else, in an attempt to elicit personal information from unsuspecting victims. These emails typically ask for financial information or for the recipient to click on a malicious link that will lead them to a malicious website. In some cases, phishing emails may also contain attachments that are infected with malware.

To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam, it is important to be aware of the signs. These include emails that contain poor grammar and spelling, as well as those that seem to be from an illegitimate source. If you receive an email that looks suspicious, do not open any attachments or click on any links. It is also a good idea to use an email service that has built-in spam filters and security measures to protect you from these types of attacks.

Gift Card Fraud

Gift card fraud typically involves a romance scammer asking their victim to purchase a large amount of prepaid gift cards in order to access their money, or even worse, to pay for some sort of service they’ve promised. In many cases, the gift cards are then used for fraudulent purposes such as money laundering, electronic payment fraud and identity theft. In some cases, the victim is even asked to send the gift card directly to the scammer.

By being aware of this type of scam, you can avoid falling victim to it. If someone asks you to purchase a large amount of gift cards, or sends you a gift card link, it’s best to avoid clicking on the link and simply move on.

It’s also important to be aware that romance scammers may send fake emails that appear to originate from legitimate companies in order to get their victims to purchase gift cards. In these cases, always double-check the sender’s email address and be sure to read all the terms and conditions before making a purchase.

If you are ever unsure, it’s best to simply ignore the request or contact the legitimate company directly.

In addition, never give out your financial information when communicating with someone online, as this can put you at risk of becoming a victim of gift card fraud. If someone is pressuring you to purchase a gift card, it’s best to simply end the conversation and move on. Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Catfishing Online Scams

We'll start with the typical things you've probably heard of (but still need to be mindful about whenever you're online!).

In a nutshell, catfishing is where someone creates an online profile that isn't them - or it's kind of them, but ten years ago.

You get the idea; it's passing yourself off as someone or something you're not.

There are some terrifying stories about this, ranging from:

  • Antonio, the ridiculously hot Italian guy who needs €100 for his plane ticket to come and sweep you off your feet. But he's actually Kevin, a 67-year-old scammer from Bolton.
  • Stephie, a striking teen who spends hours on young dating platforms writing songs with her sweetheart. Except she's Lukas, a 26-year-old con artist in the Czech Republic, conning thousands of love-struck teens out of their hard earned cash.
  • Pete, the relaxed young guy who's just looking for someone to make him happy - but he's a predator 30 years older who gets his kicks scamming young women.

These are extreme examples, but never lose sight of the potential to put yourself at needless risk if you aren't taking the necessary precautions.

Use Google reverse image search, and you'll instantly see if this profile picture has been stolen from elsewhere. Check out this person on other social media sites, and don't hesitate to back away (quickly!) if you've got any clue they're not who they say.

The Long-Distance Dating Trick

Next up, we'll talk about those people who can't possibly meet you in person because they're (*delete as appropriate):

  • Working on an oil rig
  • Saving orphans in Africa
  • In the military
  • Flying with Doctors without borders

Yep, sure thing. The long-distance scam is set up right from the start, and there is zero opportunity to meet them, so you'll probably have a more challenging time verifying if the profile is authentic.

Invariably, the conversation will sooner or later lead to a message asking you to wire money or pay some cash onto a gift card or MoneyPak card.

Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • They need to pay for travel expenses to come and marry you.
  • It's a medical emergency, and their insurance isn't paying out.
  • Customs is demanding a hefty payment to collect their next paycheck.
  • The visa costs to travel are too high to cover on their salary.

It seems so obvious when you look at it like this, but the issue is that even on the most popular dating apps, people go to great lengths to establish a rapport before they spring you for the cash.

Never, ever, EVER send anybody money online, no matter how plausible, no matter how much you believe it's authentic.

Also Read: Which are the Most Popular Platforms for Online Dating in 2021?

ID Fraud on Online Dating Sites

Our next scam is ID fraud, and it's a severe problem that can cause no end of chaos, grief and upset.

Again - you need to know the signs!

While all the Best10DatingGuide recommendations are fantastic, you also need to know that the dating platform is sometimes scamming you, not necessarily an individual profile.

We'd strongly advise selecting your choice of dating apps from our suggestions or otherwise looking out for:

  • Excessive requests for personal information.
  • Credit card details, even though your account is meant to be free.
  • Inappropriate questions, like your mother's maiden name, first pet, or street you grew up on.

A legit dating app won't ever ask for those things, and you'll be able to choose whatever password you like without needing to provide reams of personal details.

The Pusher Posing as a Dater

Now, if you haven't seen this before, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a bit far fetched. But, believe us, it happens a LOT more than you probably think!

Here's how the scam works:

  1. The dealer sets up a decent profile on the most popular dating apps Boston - its authentic, real pictures, the works.
  2. They start up a tonne of private chats, being charming, friendly, kind, and perhaps sending match requests to people that are a lot older than them, or maybe that you wouldn't expect them to be interested in (flattery works, we're only human!).
  3. Next up, they'll keep chatting about their business. Now, it might not be drugs. It could be a rubbish MLM scheme, or a local service, or knock-off counterfeit t-shirts. It's something you don't want and have no interest in buying.
  4. To seal the deal, they'll beg you to come to a little party, a date, let them cook you dinner, and you'll find yourself in a high-pressure situation to buy things, including illegal merchandise, all in the name of love.

Anybody who starts chatting about their 'business' (in the loosest sense of the term) probably isn't there for dating.

It can also be tricky to find yourself in a position where you've been duped, as well as a tad embarrassing that you've fallen for the scam to trick you into thinking you're heading for a romantic date when it's something far less exciting.

Online Dating Apps Are Not Sales Platforms.

If you ever get messages that feel off, pushy, uncomfortable or plain inappropriate, you need to block the account, report it to site admin, and consider it a lucky break that you knew what to look out for!


Online dating can be a wonderful experience, but it is important to remember that there are some people out there who may use these sites for nefarious reasons. Knowing the signs of online scams and how to protect yourself against them is key if you want to safely navigate through the world of digital romance.

Be on guard for requests for money or too many personal details, as well as those offering something fishy in exchange for your time. If you ever feel uncomfortable with someone's behavior or their messages seem off, don’t hesitate to report it and block their account immediately.

That way, you'll stay safe while enjoying all the benefits that come from using online dating services!

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.