Protect Yourself From Scammers

Safe Dating - Be a Wise Owl

The online world can be a fun and exciting place. However, there are some people who use the internet to take advantage of others for personal gain. This article gives some insight into what we do to keep you safe online, when using our dating sites.

What is a scammer?
‘Scammer’ is the name given to any people that sign up to dating sites without genuine intentions. This can cover a whole range of different things, from escorts, prostitutes and ‘cam girls’, but some of the worst are what are known as Romance Scams. A Romance Scam can be the most harmful to our members, as it is a game played with people’s emotions in order to try to procure financial gain.

This is something that is a problem across the internet as a whole, especially as the social cyber world grows. Thankfully, people are becoming more and more aware of these dangers and are becoming more knowledgeable on what to look out for.

How to spot a scammer
The online dating world is your oyster and there are undoubtedly plenty of fish in the cyber sea! But when you’re a little fish in such a big pond, how do you spot the fish from the scammer?

There are a number of types of online dating scams, i.e. romance scams, military scams and recovery scams. No matter what the type of scam, a scammer is a scammer. They create fake profiles on legitimate dating sites with their sights set on one thing… your hard earned money.

It’s important to remember that anyone can be targeted. You don’t have to be rich to be targeted and you certainly aren’t stupid if you fall prey to these scams; these people are devious and manipulative! Always be vigilant when you start communication with a stranger on a dating site, and consider the possibility of the other person not being who they say they are. Be as wary as you would in the real world!

Who are the Moderation Team and what do they do?
The Moderation Team works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help protect the members of our dating sites.

It’s their job to ensure that all content posted onto the sites by our members is not only genuine, but appropriate for the site that it is intended for. Each moderator must adhere to guidelines set for each site, in order to ensure that all member content posted is consistent and fair, with regards to the rules set.

As well as ensuring that content is acceptable, they also keep up to date with all of the trends that scammers are using. They are a dedicated team and effectively are ‘gate keepers’ for our sites. Therefore they all work tirelessly to try and make sure that as few fraudsters as possible slip through the net.

What suspicious signs should members look for when chatting to someone new?
When a member begins chatting to someone on the site, there are 3 things that we advise them to look out for:

  • Lots of flowery language in their message, lots of descriptive words and writing ‘Hello dear’ as their opening remark.
  • Trying to give out contact details quite early on in the conversation and asking to talk outside of the site almost immediately.
  • Launching into a tale of a tragic event that has happened to them recently or in the past.

If a member can answer yes to all 3 of these questions, then they should stop all communication immediately and report them to our Moderation Team for further investigation.

How do you report a suspicious profile?
If a member comes across someone that they believe to be non-genuine or that gives them cause for concern in any other way, they can use the ‘Report This Profile’ link, which can be found at the top and bottom of every member’s profile as well as the top and bottom of any conversation with the member.

If you have any questions or concerns about any members on the site, please remember to use the Report This Profile button.

Being a victim of scammer activity can be both emotionally and financially distressing, so having as much information as possible can help prevent you (or even someone you know), from becoming a victim. Here are our top tips on what to look out for:

  • Check the age of the person contacting you: young male scammers often target middle-aged and older women, as there is more of a chance of the target being wealthy and/or vulnerable.
  • Check his/her dating profile: What information does it give out? Common scammer profiles will show that they work overseas, are self-employed professionals and are widowed. Perhaps they have stated they live near your area, and are due to return soon from a business trip or from charity work overseas? This should trigger alarm bells. Be aware that there are no military generals from the USA, browsing dating sites, asking people for money. There are no American soldiers needing to buy their way out of their service. There are no white male engineers in Ghana, stranded there unable to afford to fly home to the UK. Some scammer profiles are blank. If you are in contact with someone who has not filled out a profile, be very wary. Ask them for further information.
  • Messaging: Are you being asked for your personal contact details at a very early stage? Have you received a first message asking you for your Skype address, email address or phone number? Many scammers will give the excuse that they ‘hate messaging back and forth on these sites’ and will suggest continuing the conversation elsewhere. Do not give out any personal details if you have any concerns.
  • Message content: Is the message full of spelling and grammatical errors? Is there a blank where your name should be? Are they using unusual and unnatural wording? i.e. ‘Hello dear, how are you this day dear?’, ‘I am Hannah by name, and 30 by age’, ‘I hope to be reading from you soon dear’. If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you should stop all contact immediately.
  • Rapid escalation of contact: A high volume of calls, texts and expressions of love and passion early into the relationship is often a sure tell tale sign of a scammer.
  • Asking for money: No member on any of our dating sites should ever ask you for money. Do not give out any personal banking details. One of the most common scammer tactics is to play on your emotional weaknesses, break down your barriers and gain your trust. ‘The halo effect’ as psychologists have named it, is a type of cognitive bias where our perception of one personality trait influences how we view a person’s entire personality. For example, if a person shows themselves to be kind, we then tend to think that they are intelligent, fun and generous. If we fall into this trap, it is then easier for the scammer to pull out the trust card and use reverse psychology on us. If you refuse to do what they are asking, they will tell you that without trust there can be no relationship, or they thought you were different you cared about them. These tricks are used every day by scammers across the world!

Don’t be a victim of fraud
When it comes to online dating, always use your common sense and trust your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Whilst your profile should give a good idea of who you are, try not to provide too much personal information. If you have had a traumatic or emotional experience and share this on your page, a scammer will see this as vulnerability and a way to get to you.

Do not share photos of yourself with family to people you do not trust – they can use these to scam other people with, pretending to be a family person etc.

The online dating world is exciting and full of possibilities. There are millions of genuine people out there, looking for love, but you need to be wary, sensible and vigilant to avoid yourself becoming a victim.

Happy and safe searching!