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9 Online Dating Scams to Avoid

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Navigating the world of Internet dating can be an exciting and fun way to meet potential partners. However, you might quickly discover that some things are not what they seem on certain sites and profiles. Though it is one of the fastest-growing ways for singles to meet each other and form lasting relationships, there are definitely those who use the sites for dishonest purposes.

With this in mind we’ve compiled this list of nine of the biggest online dating red flags and online dating scams uncovered in recent years. These red flags may refer to clues that the person on the other end of a profile might be untrustworthy, or that the website itself might not be truthful about its intended purpose. By following this list, you’ll be well-informed enough to pursue dating online safely and wisely.

Red Flag 1: The dating website asks for excessive personal information.

All dating websites will ask for a certain amount of information in order to match you successfully with people who will hold your interest. However, this information will generally be limited to personality details and interests rather than financial information or anything that might be useful to someone wishing to steal your identity. A popular scam involves sites that ask you to create a profile specifically to mine your information. You know those security questions on bank websites about your mother’s maiden name or your first school? If a dating site asks you questions like these, steer clear!

Red Flag 2: Your date wants to meet somewhere secluded.

You probably have heard stories about first dates ending before they even began because the other person wanted to meet somewhere completely inappropriate. First dates with someone online should at least begin in a public place. Someone who insists on meeting at his or her home or someplace secluded doesn’t have very much respect for your safety and security, even if they don’t mean you any harm.

This warning applies to men as much as women, because there have been reports of men being lured into situations where they were robbed (or worse) by multiple parties simply because they didn’t think they personally had to worry about meeting someone dangerous online.

Red Flag 3: The online dating profile has only professional photos.

Though it’s possible that an actual model with a portfolio was matched with you on a dating site, it’s much more likely that the profile is fake. Fake profiles are generally used to mine information from unsuspecting singles, or to convince you to download malware (generally disguised as a photo file) that will steal your data and put you at risk.

Red Flag 4: Everyone looks like a celebrity on the website.

Individual profiles are often used by scammers, but even worse are entire websites created for the same purpose. If you find yourself on a less well-known dating site where each profile features a more attractive person than the last and everyone seems to be an expert at photo retouching, it’s likely that you’re about to fall victim to a scam. Free online dating sites seem to be the most common offenders of this crime, and many of them have no ill intent besides convincing you to join using fake photos. When it comes to online dating, honesty is always the best policy and you should expect it from your dates and the sites you find them on.

Red Flag 5: An online dating profile mentions illegal drugs or activity.

Some users might feel it necessary to request any and all potential dates are “420 friendly” or otherwise inclined to participate in recreational drug use. However, profiles that mention drugs are more than likely a cover for someone in your area who is running a covert sales operation and wants you to be his newest customer. Generally speaking, a dating site drug dealer might correspond with you normally at first, but then quickly bring the conversation to whatever drugs they are selling. This will likely include offers to come and “party” with some friends, followed quickly by a veritable shopping list of different strains or varieties of illegal products and their prices. Just steer clear.

Red Flag 6: Someone gets overly emotional too soon.

Do you find yourself having to apologize just because you’re ready to end the conversation after a few hours? Does the person assume you’re not interested because you didn’t reply to a text right away? Have you received a long email detailing how much someone you’ve just been matched with has been “waiting for someone like you forever”? This is a chief online dating red flag to worry about, as emotional instability is potentially a symptom of a greater mental disorder. Most dating sites offer a block button and this is definitely a situation in which you should use it.

Red Flag 7: When someone says, “Let’s go out sometime next month, maybe.”

Weird timing rules are a red flag for a couple of reasons. On one hand, someone who claims he or she cannot meet with you for a month or longer might just be exceedingly cautious and looking to build an emotional connection prior to any actual face-to-face meeting. On the other hand, he or she could be requesting so much time to hide something. Catfishing describes a situation in which a person uses someone else’s photos in order to meet people online and then reveals his or her true self only after continuing to lie becomes impossible. Requesting an unusual amount of time before meeting is usually a sign that the person is not who they seem to be. You might be being catfished if your date is constantly canceling plans or refuses to make them in the first place, citing timing issues. This could also be a sign that your match is in a relationship or married and need that much time to figure out how to cheat without being discovered.

Red Flag 8: Someone seems too interested in your children.

Though predators who frequent online dating sites are generally interested in harming adults, there have been cases of women dating men online only to find out that the men were interested in those women’s young children for horrible reasons. If you mention your children in your profile and potential dates seem to have more questions about them than you, it is a sign that you should not ignore. Some dating sites offer flagging options that will allow you to alert moderators of someone who seems dangerous to you or your family.

Red Flag 9: The website offers incentives like free premium membership in exchange for personal information,

Some free online dating sites may seem legitimate at first glance, but will reveal their true colors once you’ve been a member for a while. You may receive an offer for a free premium membership or some other exclusive perk in exchange for filling out a survey that unsurprisingly contains similar questions to those used for banking. You should never reveal any information that can be used to access private or financial details, no matter what perks you are being offered.

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