Romance fraud is more common than we think and is has grown by 30% each year. With divorce and families scattered around the world, loneliness is big business. In 2015, victims lost £23.3million in the UK alone. Sadly, the true number is likely to be higher because of the victims who may be too ashamed to come forward.
Audrey Lindt, the author behind the memoir ‘Misadventures in Mature Dating’ wrote her account of her dating adventures online and wants to help other women avoid the scams that she spotted in her quest for love.
After her divorce from her husband of 30 years and encouraged by her daughter, Audrey signed up to an online dating site. With curiosity getting the better of her, still young at heart and longing for adventure she took the plunge. With so many wonderful men approaching her on the internet dating sites it looked like love was possible.
Little did she know that no sooner had she found her knight in shining armour, it swiftly became apparent that he didn’t exist. There were several gentlemen she did feel connected too after much flirting and chatting over email and text. Though after months of reeling her in, they would fabricate a story asking her for money. Coming from a business background she was able to see the requests where fabricated and she soon realised there was a pattern and turned detective on the scam.
These are some of the warning signs that she learnt to identify along the path to finding real love.
Use a Trusted Site – If friends or people you know have met their match on a site, it is likely you can trust the site and the potential suitors on it.
Camera On – This was the first sign that something was amiss. If your ideal guy isn’t switching on his camera or ‘it is broken’, insist that you find another way to speak so you can see each other. If he refuses block him.
Too Good to Be True – It is lovely to receive compliments and have someone talk to you about shared hopes and dreams. But more often these gentlemen are too good to be true. A is probably because it isn’t true. Gushing about your future one minute, then shouting at you the next isn’t a good sign, no matter how stressed their job is.
Protesting Too Much – If your beau ‘protests too much’ or can reel off everything about themselves very early on take note. This stuff takes time, and it is unlikely someone recovering from past hurts will give it up so quickly in the first few interactions with someone they just met.
Real Life Jobs – Look for gentlemen with normal jobs and lives. Anyone digging for oil, mining for gold or military surgeons – just don’t go there.
Intimacy – Whilst this can be thrilling and something you have craved or missed. Unless you completely trust and have met him, save this for when you have met. I don’t wish to scare you, but intimate photographs can and have been used for blackmail.
Stay safe – your safety is the most important thing – do not share anything sensitive with some one you just met online. Sharing bank details, pictures of credit cards or sharing your signature is a big NO. You are not bank, and if your beau asked for money to bail them out refuse. This is when you will see what you are really dealing with.
Meetings on mutual ground – If your beau passes the first test and he does exist and has been on camera with you. If he suggests a meeting, make sure it is on your terms, in a location you are happy with and you have told a trusted friend where you are meeting.
Online dating is now worth £225 million a year in Britain. Loneliness and with our busy lives, it is hard to meet people. Sadly, 82% of romance fraud victims are women, and those scammed out of money are normally those over 50.
If you have been a victim of an online dating scam – first do not blame yourself for feeling empathy or being lonely. Then take action, websites like www.romancescam.com take all the details about the scammers – phone numbers and email addresses along with fake pictures and ID.
The final thought I want to leave you with, it is possible to find love online… I did. But stay grounded and find out who you are dealing with before you get too attached. Don’t let sweet talk carry you away from reality into fantasy, no matter how charming the man or how desperate your need for love and companionship.
Never give up on your dreams and take each new experience as a lesson from which you can learn.