Tips for avoiding online dating scams


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Online dating scams not only jeopardize a person’s finances but can harm them emotionally, as well. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office recommends following the advice from the website, SCAMwatch.gov.

The following are some warning signs that the person you meet though a dating site may not be a legitimate romantic partner:

• You meet someone on an Internet dating website and their profile picture or photograph looks different from their description or like it’s from a magazine;

• After just a few contacts they profess strong feelings for you and suggest moving the conversation away from the website preferring email, instant messaging and/or phone instead;

• After gaining your trust, they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details;

• They continue to ask you for money, but never actually visit you;

• If you don’t send money straightaway, their emails and calls will often become more desperate, persistent or direct;

• The email is poorly written, vague or contains specific information taken directly from news articles, repeats itself, you are addressed by the wrong name, or the email is not personally addressed at all.

The following are ways to protect yourself from dating and romance scams:

• Always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam, particularly if the warning signs listed above appear. Try to remove the emotion from your decision-making no matter how caring or persistent they seem;

• Talk to an independent friend, relative or consumer protection agency before you send any money;

• Think twice before sending money to someone you have only recently met online or haven’t met in person;

• Never give credit card or online account details to anyone by email;

• Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam;

• If you agree to meet in person, tell family and friends where you are going;

• Where possible, avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way;

• If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately;

• Money laundering is a criminal offense: do not agree to transfer money for someone else.


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