Online dating is fast becoming the No. 1 way for busy singles to find a partner, but the search for love has left many Australians out of pocket as scammers prey on the vulnerable.
Just last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed that Australians spend $75,000 per day on online dating scams.
“Signing up to dating websites has proven successful for many singles seeking a match. Unfortunately it has also proven popular among scammers who prey on people’s vulnerabilities to steal their money, particularly around sentimental times of the year,” the ACCC warned.
Over just 12 months, more than $27 million had been reportedly lost around the country through online dating scams, a figure which went up from $23 million the previous year.
So, how is one to know that Derrick, the hot army dude with the rippling biceps, isn’t actually an online dating scammer from another country?
Here’s how to make sure you don’t get fooled by an online dating scam.
1. Don’t begin dating online when you’re in a vulnerable state
Perhaps you’ve come out of a difficult relationship and your confidence has taken a hit. You want to get back in the game to build your self-esteem back up again. Chances are, if you enter the online dating world in a vulnerable state, you’re going to be more susceptible to developing feelings for someone online quicker. Work on your own health and well-being first before deciding to date online.
2. The sooner you meet someone, the better
A friend once gave me a great piece of advice when I told her I was going to delve into the world of online dating. She said, “Meet the person as soon as possible. You don’t want to develop feelings for someone you realise you don’t have any chemistry with.” And she was so right! Have a couple of online chats and then get the ball rolling straightaway with your online match. Ask to meet up for a coffee one weekend. If they say they’re too busy or make up an elaborate excuse, then tell them you’re looking for a real connection, not just an online connection. Online scammers obviously aren’t interested in meeting up and make excuses to keep putting it off.
3. Run a Google Image search
If you’re worried the person you’re meeting up with isn’t the person you’re seeing in photos, then be sure to do a Google Image search. This will show you where else online the photos are available and will confirm their identity.
4. Phone and e-mail
Scammers want to get off the dating websites as soon as possible to avoid detection, so they will often ask to transfer the conversation to private e-mail or phone instead. Keep your contact on the dating site until you two have actually met in public.
5. Never give out sensitive information
Never, ever give out your private information and never give money to someone you’ve met online. Scammers can groom their victims for months, even years, so you might think the person you have been chatting to is legitimate, but it is more likely than not just a part of an elaborate scheme to extort money from the vulnerable.
Have you ever been a victim of online dating scams? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
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