Statistics estimate that 1 in 4 relationships now begin online and as this figure grows, so do the number of online fraud cases. This type of fraud can affect anyone, meaning you don’t have to be rich or particularly naive, but simply made vulnerable through looking for companionship. However, you can protect yourself by knowing how to spot the signs of being scammed.
Most of these scams begin on dating websites and although their profile may appear legitimate, it is important to check for any discrepancies. Starting with age, if you are the older out of the two of you that could be a sign of someone seeking out middle aged men or women who they assume are wealthy and more vulnerable. Secondly, three main stories that are often used on profiles are that they are self-employed/working abroad, they live near you but are currently away and that they are widowed. These three descriptions are classic lines within the profiles of scammers.
You may also want to carry out various photo checks starting with google image searching their profile photos. If their images appear within the image search and appear illegitimate in some way then you should report them to the website with this evidence. You can also check any other photos you have received by doing the same or perhaps analysing them for any inconsistencies for who the person says they are, for example backgrounds and landscapes.
Despite these fraudsters appearing as criminal masterminds, it is often obvious that they are fakes through the way that they speak and type. When looking at emails they have sent you, it is likely they will make mistakes such as getting their name wrong or even yours. Their grammar is often poor and they will keep repeating themselves within emails. After a while if you cannot find any grammatical or punctuation errors (which are very common), you must look for mistakes in the pictures and story they have built for themselves. If they are revealing what you would class as too much information about themselves and being overly explanatory to the point it is unbelievable then it is most likely a lie.
One of the final stages of a scam is the rapid escalation of emotions over a short period of time. If they begin to profess strong emotions and companionship towards you without ever meeting you, this is the time to be concerned. It is from here that they will attempt to convince you that they are ready to come to visit or even live with you but will suddenly need financial help to do so. This is the final and most prominent warning sign and it is at this point it becomes obvious that it is a scam.