Advice & guidance on how to avoid dating scams OR if the worst happens - how to deal with the heartbreak & humiliation.
Many mature singles have contacted me considering the recent Netflix series called ‘The Tinder Swindler’. Some are very concerned about this subject, mainly because they have just entered this fast-paced, modern dating world that bears no resemblance to the world they left behind 20-, 30- or 40-years prior.
As well as having to navigate this ‘minefield’, there is also the scary thought of an online Romance Scam happening to them without knowing it.
The pandemic has left many mature singles alone and actively seeking friendship, allowing fraudsters the opportunity to prey on vulnerable people. At least £92 million was lost to romance fraud between the 12 months from November 2020 and October 2021 (according to Action Fraud)! This is a lot of money to be fraudulently extracted from unsuspecting singles during a brief period!
Moving away from the money side of dating scams – a recent client of mine told me that the loss of the relationship he thought he had hurt more than the financial loss, as well as the shame at being hoodwinked! He has since withdrawn totally from dating with the little confidence that he had now battered.
What happened to me – this very handsome, affluent looking guy messaged me on a well-known dating platform back in 2018, and we began to message for a few days. I noticed after day three that he was not available during the day or evening but would message me during the night, and I would not see the message until morning. I would message him back and then get a random message a few hours later – but then nothing until the middle of the next night. I enquired what he did for a living, and he said he worked for Exxon Mobil as an Engineer and often worked abroad (I now know this is a typical job role they use). He said his wife had died. He asked me questions about my job, kids, etc. He said he had a daughter but no mention of who looked after her when he was abroad or anything else. I also noticed his grammar was strange and had a weird dialect. He would write the most bizarre paragraphs about total gobbledygook! After a few days, I started to feel suspicious, and I decided to start digging. I decided to use my friend’s phone, and I called his number on a WhatsApp video call……a young Nigeran guy wearing a bandanna answered the phone, and when he saw it was me, he cut the phone off and blocked me immediately. I went straight onto the dating platform to report him, but by then, he was gone!
I had a lucky escape as I am a naturally cynical person (which is not a good thing when you are trying to meet someone) but in this instance, it paid off.
Please be careful, these women and men steal identities from social media and pose as professionals, military, and many other profiles to attract your attention.
If in any doubt, then check it out – mainly to save the hurt, disappointment, and feelings of embarrassment.
How to spot an online dating fraudster.
Ø Firstly, if you think it is too good to be true, it probably is! For someone to declare strong feelings after a few conversations are not reality.
Ø Watch out for the grammar – often spelling mistakes, unusual grammar, and dialect.
Ø They are not available during our GMT day and send messages during the wee hours.
Ø Want to move to a private instant messaging platform very quickly (WhatsApp).
Ø Always want to ring you because you will get a foreign ringtone if you ring them. (In many cases, scammers are likely to be gangs of organised criminals working from abroad).
Ø Most scammers will tell you that their spouse died of cancer and was widowed.
Ø Most communication is on their terms, and they refuse to video call you.
Ø Performing a reverse image search on a search engine can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone, else.
ANY REQUEST FOR MONEY FROM ANYONE ONLINE IS A RED FLAG.
So many dating platforms are riddled with scammers - one minute, you will see someone has messaged you, and they are nice and then the next time you look, they have been removed from the site. It is a full-time job for dating platforms to keep these people from using their free services.
If you think you have been scammed!
Ø Immediately contact your bank to let them know what has happened – ask for a refund.
Ø If you’ve been a victim of fraud, online fraud, cybercrime or you suspect one is being attempted, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via Action Fraud.police.uk.
Ø Block them from your phone immediately.
Ø Report them to the platform you initially met them on as soon as you possibly can.
Ø Talk to family and friends about your experience.
Ø Take time to recover and take comfort in that you are not alone.
Men are scammed as much as women.
If you need to talk about any of the above, then email me (Jacqui) at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a good time for a telephone chat.