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Be Wary of Internet Dating Scams
When I Became a First Time Internet Dater
After my divorce 13 years ago, I dabbled in internet dating. I was a single mom, raising two children and I didn't have time to frequent single's venues. I worked full time and devoted any time beyond that to caring for my kids. It was when they went on the required visitations with their father that I allowed myself to meet possible suitors.
At first, I was excited about the prospect of having eligible bachelor's at my fingertips. I put together my profile and added complimentary pictures of myself. I winced as I slowly clicked the send button and waited for about twenty minutes before receiving a verification that my profile met the site's terms and was now live on the internet!
Even though I carefully selected specific preferences, I was amazed at how many men didn't actually read my profile. They simply looked at my photo and decided that they wanted to contact me. At first, I became despondent over having to weed through the many unwanted proposals. Many simply wanted a physical relationship. Some were still married and there was a huge number of suitors that stated they were in the process of getting divorced.
I did date quite a few fellows and actually, over the span of five years, dated three of them seriously before one of us decided that the relationship had no future.
At that time, I only encountered one person that could have been considered a scammer. A good looking, blonde-haired Irishman contacted me. He claimed to work for a company that built roads in underprivileged parts of Africa and that he would make arrangements upon his return to meet up with me (we hadn't met; only emailed and spoke on the phone). I was excited to meet and when he went on his "journey" he even called me from "Africa". It was three days into his trip that I received a threatening phone call from someone with a strong accent demanding that I send a large sum of money to them or they would kill my "boyfriend". I googled this information and found that many scams occurred out of Nigeria where unsuspecting women (and men) would be swindled out of money in the name of love. When I received a second phone call about the ransom I calmly told the caller, "Go ahead and kill him. I don't know him and he is of no worth to me." I could hear sputters of disbelief and then yelling and then a click on the other end. I'm sure my response wasn't what they were used to getting.
The Second Time Around
It's been around nine years since I had looked online for a potential date or companion. I'd decided about four years ago that it was better for my family to focus on our home and own personal needs. Now that my children are young adults, I decided that doing things alone all the time wasn't as fulfilling as it used to be and I recently chose to try my hand at the internet venue once again.
I heard from many women that they have had poor luck in finding a suitable match for themselves. Things have changed a lot for me in the past thirteen years. I am a very independent, strong, vocal woman who has always taken care of myself as well as many others and I didn't NEED a man in my life, rather, wanted a significant other to share the joys of life with. However, my neighbor, being one of the lucky ones, met and married her husband from one of the sites. I was hopeful that I would actually meet someone that shared my morals, goals and share my dream of building a friendship first that could blossom into something more meaningful.
The first week after enrolling in a popular, paid site,I received twenty five responses from scammers. It became a joke and then a mission to expose them and report them to the website. Almost every one of the interactions went as follows:
Him: Hello there beautiful!
Me: Hello back.
Him: How long have you been on this site? Any luck? I just joined today and you are my first to contact. I love your smile/eyes and you drew me right in.
Me: I've only been on a short time.
Him: Well, you are my first and I am only on a trial basis and it ends in a day so can we communicate through email so that I can tell you all about myself?
Me: Sure. I have an account with gmail. Do you?
Him: Why yes! We can chat through that too. (Or, if they didn't, they said they would create an account right away. I only use this account for such purposes)
Me: Okay. Here's my email. Talk to you soon.
Him: Great! It will only be a few minutes.
Then, within ten minutes, I was on chat with them. Of the twenty five men that first week everyone of them had a similar profile.
1. They were in the Army
2. They were on a peace keeping mission in another country
3. They all had a US address but could tell me nothing about the area they supposedly lived in, rather kept asking me questions
4. All of them were coming back within the month to retire from the service and were looking for someone to live their life with
5. All of them were only children. Their parents were dead. Their spouses had died of some horrid accident or of cancer of the blood (who says that??). If they had children, the children were living overseas and being cared for by a nanny that they had known when they were growing up as they had all lived in Europe as a child and moved to the states as adults because that is where one of their parents had grown up.
Every one of them.
So, to be the "devil's advocate", I asked them questions. Many. To their discomfort. I googled their US areas and with my own knowledge of our country and its edifices, I quizzed them on the surroundings and area. Of course, they couldn't answer any of my questions. If they did, it was after a long pause on their part during the chat; of course to search on their own some information about my question. When I asked them about the country they were in, again, they could not provide much information.
I have friends and family in the service and it outraged me that these scammers were using the Army as their front. I asked the name of the unit these fellows were serving under and not one of them understood what a unit was. They kept giving me the pay grade or rank.
The fact that these men had great difficulty completing a sentence that used correct grammar and spelling sabotaged their attempts as well. Each of them claimed to be of high rank in the service. In order for this to occur, it is imperative that the person be able to produce legible and coherent text. These scammers failed repeatedly to do this.
Many of these people will also use photos of servicemen. I found that when I right clicked on the photo and did a google picture search, websites would pop up showing the identical picture with another name. Apparently, there is a large number of pictures circulating the websites that are used frequently by these scammers. If you google dating website scams, you will find endless sites that have been created posting the pictures of all "servicemen" that have tried to extort money from unsuspecting and love starved women (and men).
It is horrifying to know that so many people frequenting these dating websites are impostors, posing to be someone that they are not.
I also met many that were not in the service but rather worked overseas with companies that built buildings, bridges or roads. Again, none of them could give me information about the US city they lived in but they all had similar stories when it came to wives, parents and children.
Mentalfloss.com reported on a survey done by one of the nation's leading dating websites. The results may surprise many people hoping to find a match online.
81% of people lie about their age, weight and height.
Men spend 50% less time reading profiles than women.
Psychology professors argue that online quizzes and compatibility tests do not work when matching people. There is no way to conclusively assure that two people are destined to be together.
Non-drinking women receive less attention than drinkers do.
Couples that meet online are more likely to break up.
Race and class are two of the most important factors listed by most people using the sites.
This information certainly doesn't raise a person's expectations of making a love connection. My personal experience has had the sites matching me with people liking activities that I abhor and urging me to contact men that truly seem to be living on a different planet than I am.
There is Hope for Some
Don't feel discouraged! For those of you that have made the decision to use an online dating website, the newest research from the PewResearch Center (February 2016), claims that internet dating has lost some of the stigma that it used to have and 59% of the people interviewed in their study feel that it is a great way to meet new people. Unfortunately, only 15% of the 25 and over population uses online dating sites or mobile apps. 17% of the 18-24 population frequents these sites to find companions or partners.
This newer research also found that 5% of the population that used a dating website found love that resulted in marriage. Who knows? You may be that one of five out of 100 that finds your significant other by putting yourself out there in cyber space!
Finding a Love Match Has Always Been Difficult
I don't think that finding love has ever been easy for people. Television earned high profits for years with shows that featured couples seeking the perfect partner such as Love Connection, The Dating Game and now the Bachelor and Bachelorette. America loves to live vicariously through showcased couples in hopes that true love will eventually conquer doubt and loneliness.
As a youth and young adult, I watched the shows broadcast in the 70's and 80's and with the audience, judged from my couch cushion, the men and women I perceived to be the best match for each other. When contestants were repeat visitors (such as the gentleman in the following video), I rooted for them even more; hoping that they would finally meet the love of their life.
What Makes A Great Match?
For now, as a result of the frequent scammers and their inability to answer questions, provide pertinent information and the stealing of photos from innocent people (thanks to sharing and easy access of photos via the internet), I have decided to take a hiatus, once again, from internet dating.
I still believe there is a potential for meeting someone. I've instead decided to join some meetup groups that will get me out of the house and involved in fun activities that I don't have to do alone. Perhaps in doing so, I will meet like-minded men and friendships will blossom.
I'm in my mid-fifties and while I would like to believe that I will experience intimacy and love again before I kick the bucket, I also am happy with my life in general. I have pretty, good health, friends and family and the ability to make plans on the spur of the moment. I like to think of my next, serious relationship as a cake. The cake being the foundation of friendship, trust and honesty, which will end up leading to love. The frosting (intimacy) will finish the cake and create a delicious masterpiece that both of us will enjoy sharing together.
In my younger years, I chose to "lick the beaters" first and found that the cake never quite baked long enough. My priorities are different now. I want something real and lasting.
I do know that when I meet "Mr. Right", he will be able to answer all of my questions, formulate sentences that contain appropriate grammar and syntax and have enough respect and admiration for me that he too will want to mix the ingredients necessary to create a cake.
In the meantime, I will continue to live and love life as I always have.