Digital dating fraud can take on many different forms, so how can you avoid internet dating scams?
In some cases internet dating scams at a very low level can be someone not being totally honest about who they are, perhaps hiding a spouse or elevating their job title or financial situation. In other cases, digital dating scams can take a much more sinister turn, with organised criminals across the globe executing carefully planned and financially devastating scams through dating websites and apps.
At Insight Investigations, we have seen this type of fraud consistently on the rise over the past few years and with one in four relationships starting digitally, we predict this increase to continue. With so many online dating profiles and the ability to swipe right and find a date in a few seconds, it’s imperative that those looking for love stay safe when using dating websites and apps.
In 2016, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau recorded an eye watering 3,889 digital dating scams resulting in an even more eye watering £39m losses, in financial terms.
Most dating apps operate ‘safe dating codes’ but monitoring all members and vetting sign ups is impossible. The best way to protect yourself against online romance scams is by educating yourself, familiarising yourself with the common tell-tale signs of romance scammers and always tread carefully when engaging with someone online.
Sometimes scammers can be real life people operating in large ‘farms’ sending out thousands of messages a day. Similarly, this can be done by dating profile ‘bots’ which are fully automated computers acting, sounding and typing like people. Whether it’s a real person or a bot, they are both after the same things; personal details, payment information, or to try and convince you to directly transfer money.
These organised gangs and fraudsters are incredibly savvy and are always coming up with new and inventive stories and scams. We hear new iteration of digital romance scams every week – unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all. With that being said, there are some tell-tell signs that perhaps the person you’re speaking with aren’t all they claim to be.
What to watch out for when dating digitally:
Do they give excuses as to why they can’t talk on the phone?
If the person you’re speaking with makes multiple excuses why they can’t talk on the phone, be wary. Often these scammers claim to be service men and women who are stationed in active war zones and so excuses can range from not being able to speak as they are out on operations or that their phone has been confiscated because they are on active service.
How do their messages read?
Often these email farms are based outside the UK and therefore English is not the first language. As such, you can often spot if something is a little off just by the way the messages are written – grammar, spelling, phrasing can be a giveaway.
The photographs they have sent you, are they genuine?
Often scammers will obtain pictures online and use as their profile pictures. In cases where they are acting as a service man or woman, they will actually obtain photographs of real soldiers in uniform with the intention of adding depth to their fake story. A private investigator will easily be able to spot inconsistencies with images and dig into the authenticity of the pictures provided.
Does their home address check out?
Sometimes these fraudsters will obtain real UK addresses as a ‘convincer’ making you feel at ease that they are who they say they are. They’ll ask you to send something to that address before asking you for a much bigger gift later on. Through a reputable private investigator, you can easily check out whether the name given has ever been registered at that address.
Have they asked you for money?
This regularly takes the form of requiring an amount for them to be released from their duties in order to fly and see you, a child’s birthday, a major car repair or a sick relative that requires an operation. The excuses are wide and varied and will be tailored to what would effectively push your buttons which they’ve established from talking to you in a personal and intimate way
If you are in any doubt about someone you or a loved one is communicating with romantically online, we are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a free consultation. We can discuss your particular circumstances in the strictest confidence, our team at Insight Investigations is highly trained in how to deal with digital dating fraud and in particular online romance scams.