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Avoiding Scams in Online Personals and Dating Sites

Updated on January 16, 2012

When you go online to meet people for dating purposes, the unfortunate truth is that many people are not there to find a serious relationship. Although scammers are probably a fairly small percentage of users on dating sites, these scammers are good at contacting as many users as possible to run their dating scams. Thus, if you spend any decent amount of time on these sites, you will probably encounter some of these conniving individuals.

Types of Scams

Not surprisingly, the scam is all about money. After all, that is the whole point of scamming someone. It is easy to spot the occasional beggar who comes right out and asks you for money the first time you talk to him or her. Unfortunately, the scammers are a bit wiser than this. To protect yourself against online personals scams, you need to learn the techniques and types of bogus cover stories used by these con artists. It is also helpful to learn tips that will give you additional clues about a spammer based on their online behavior.

The typical route a scammer will take is to have a story about needing money temporarily for something. It could be just about anything. In the Philippines, for example, scammers often claim that they need a ticket to get back home or get somewhere. They may use the term "borrow" to try to make it sound more innocent. "If you can just let me borrow ticket money so I can get back home to my family, then my brother can give you the money when you come visit me, honey." You should know the deal when you hear stories like this. If the brother already has money, then he can buy a ticket for the scammer now. Western Union is everywhere. See how the story doesn't make sense? In the end, the story won't make sense if you think about it hard enough.

Another example from the Philippines is someone who will say they need money to pay an agent to get a job overseas. Unfortunately, you can't just study a list of these bogus cover stories. There are just too many variations. But when it comes down to it, the story always falls apart when you remember EVERYTHING that the person has told you before. If you feel you are falling in love with someone, don't just assume they are telling the truth. Check your facts always. Remember that you don't really know this person in real life, so you have to be extra cautious.


1. Always demand to see someone on webcam and hear their voice through audio. Do not engage in prolonged conversations and especially don't develop feelings for someone who does not use a webcam. NO excuse will suffice for not having a webcam in this day and age of online dating. None.

If you temporarily want to accept some reason for not having a webcam or audio, then your default check is to see how long it takes for the person to respond to you. Scammers are typically targeting loads of people at the same time. This is like a job to them. If you see that someone is frequently taking 2 and 3 minutes or more to respond to something you say, then you absolutely must demand to see that person on webcam and with audio. No excuses. Frequent lag time in responses is one of the biggest scammer red flags.

2. Unsophisticated scammers will be way too sweet and way too fast. They will start calling you "dear" and "honey" almost instantly. While guys are more prone to do this and not be a scammer, there is NO WAY that the typical girl would use this kind of language when first meeting someone. These are the B-level dating and personals scam artists that do not know how unrealistic this approach is. Most of you already know that girls don't act like this unless they start to get feelings for someone. Those of you without a lot of experience with girls should learn this now. These girls that instantly start calling you "dear" and "honey" but usually also have excuses for ending chats quickly because they are busy or for other generic reasons are usually scammers.

3. What you will see when someone is on webcam are his or her mannerisms and other behaviors. Huge red flags include smiling when you said nothing, looking at other things on the screen instead of focusing on you, and constantly typing things that are obviously not meant for you. You have to understand how scammers work. They are targeting multiple people at the same time. This is why they like to avoid using webcams and especially avoiding audio. Once the audio is turned on, the dating scammer has trouble doing his or her work because you will hear typing and other things going on.

4. If you have read above, then you will not be surprised at the common lies that personals scam artists tell on a consistent basis. One of the biggest lies actually does involve webcams and especially audio. If you are talking to someone from a dating site that always has a new reason for not using a webcam or audio, that is often, but not always, a scammer. First, why the inconsistent reasons? It's because it's easy to tell a truth and hard to lie well over time. You will start to see inconsistencies in what a scammer says because they just can't remember from one person to the next what they said.

Honestly, the NO. 1 rule is to NEVER trust someone that refuses to use a webcam and audio. This will cut out most scammers at their knees because they just can't afford to spend all their time with you. They are, in fact, trying to scam multiple people at the same time. It's just not worth their time if you demand personal, loving attention.

The No. 2 rule is probably to watch behavior on webcam. Is the person actually paying attention to you? Or are they doing other things at the same time? As stated above, the oddly timed smile is one of the biggest giveaways that you may be dealing with a scammer. This is not a surefire way to spot a dating scam artist. However, ask yourself something. Do you really want to be falling in love with someone who doesn't even pay attention to you when you are focusing your energy on him or her? In this case, you are either dealing with a scam artist or someone who does not care about you. In either case, it is time to move on and find someone who is actually interested in you.

5. Scammers often send a "Smile" or "Like" or whatever the thing is that the particular site has for showing interest in another member. But the key is that many do this WITHOUT ever actually visiting your profile. If someone is interested in a serious relationship, they will want to read your profile. This is just common sense. These are typically scammers that are "liking" everybody on the site to try to reel in as many potential victims as possible. As a general rule, be extremely skeptical of anyone who "likes" you without even reading your profile.

6. Many dating scammers are not totally terrible people, so it's hard for them to completely lie. So what they will do is consistently fail to be loving and sweet and will always have a reason for not committing to you. You may also find that a scam artist will refuse to cancel their accounts on online dating and personals websites even if they say they love you. This is a huge red flag. If someone loves you, she will have no problem deleting her account. This is almost UNIVERSALLY true. There is zero need to have an account on a personals site if the suspected scam artist says she loves you. Do NOT believe the claim that it is just for friends or protests that you are too controlling or possessive. That is just an excuse and a guilt trip to drag you along more and keep the scam going while being able to keep their accounts open to target more scam victims.

7. Inconsistency is the last major key. Some scam artists will say they love you one day and they "like" you the next. Many will disappear for days and pretend like nothing happened when they return. Do NOT assume that a scammer will instantly ask for money. This is a big mistake. Many will groom you slowly to lead up to the scam. They probably won't do it for six months, but many will try to set you up for weeks. But what you will often notice is the inconsistency. If someone loves you, they will want to see you every day. And they will not have a myriad of excuses for talking only 5 or 10 minutes, either.


There is not that one way to spot a personals scam artist. But if you track what they say and find inconsistencies, that is a red flag. And the biggest red flags of all are refusing to use a webcam and audio while chatting. Do NOT accept any excuse whatsoever for someone not having a webcam and letting you hear their voice while you are chatting. This is the hallmark of a spammer. Audio is an even bigger evil to them than video, but video can also give you red flags like inappropriate and strangely timed smiles, stares and other behavior.

If you are new to the Internet and dating sites, be aware that Facebook, Skype and Yahoo Messenger all have popular and free video and audio for live communications. Use these and demand to use one when meeting someone from an online dating site.

Note that all of this is based on personal experience. I met my wife online. It is a great way to meet serious people from different walks of life and countries around the world. Just learn to protect yourself when meeting people on dating sites. Love is power, and some people are very willing to use that power to extract money from your wallet. By knowing the red flags, you can protect yourself.


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      trinidy 5 years ago

      Great article