February 9, 2024
We live in the era of online dating. Whilst many people do meet their perfect partner on reputable dating sites, it can prove a minefield for others trying to find love online. As Valentine’s Day approaches, many singletons seek their true love but not everyone is who they seem online!
It’s important to be alert for fraudsters who use these platforms to scam and swindle those looking for love. We have some advice on what to look out for and the steps you can take to prevent yourself falling victim to a dating scam.
How a dating scam works
As with other scams, dating scams try to con you out of your personal and financial information. The aim is to catch you off guard and trick you into handing over bank account or card details. A dating scam is particularly difficult as it plays on your emotions. The scammer forms an emotional connection with you, wins over your trust and builds up your expectation of a long-term relationship. Single people who might be lonely and are eager to meet that special someone, can be taken advantage of in this way. Once they’ve built up trust, the scammer will make their move, asking for financial help.
Romantic red flags
A scam artist will set up a fake profile on a legitimate dating site and pretend to be somebody they’re not. Their photos will typically be fake.
You should be wary if your love interest:
- Promises to meet you without making a genuine effort to do so
- Asks you lots of questions but reveals little personal information themselves
- Wants to move your conversation quickly from the dating site to another channel
- Declines to do a video call with you repeatedly
- Gives you a hard luck story, for example – they have a sick parent in hospital
- Suddenly asks you for money to help with their hard luck situation or crisis
Never send any intimate photos of yourself to somebody you’ve met on a dating site. Scammers extort their victims by threatening to humiliate them and post these images across social media.
Steps you can take
There are ways to keep yourself safe while dating online:
- Don’t share too much of your own personal information on your dating profile
- Tell your close friends or family about any new online relationship you start
- Never transfer money to a potential partner online no matter how genuine they seem to you
- Cut all contact if you’re asked for money. You can block and report scammers on most chatting apps
See our dos and don’ts to protect yourself.
You should never feel too embarrassed to report your experience. If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a romance scam and have handed over money, contact your bank immediately. They can advise you and put a hold on your account. Report any potential dating scam to your local Gardai station.
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