Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to Avoid Being Conned on a Dating Site

Okay, all of you single ladies out there—listen up! We live in a scary world…and if you’re looking for love online, it can be even scarier. As great as those couples in the Match.com commercials make online dating out to be, the marketers behind those ads forget to tell us about the side of online dating that isn’t so great…

Because the internet provides such anonymity, it also unfortunately provides a breeding ground for some serious creeps—many of whom use online dating sites to prey on innocent women looking for love. So that your online dating escapades aren’t marred by such an experience, be sure to learn how to spot romance scams, married men, and then arm yourself with tips for safe online dating:

Watch out for romance scams. More and more online singles are falling into the traps of romance scammers—don’t fall yourself! These scammers are infamous for tricking their victims into believing that there is a true romantic connection in order to fraudulently access their money, bank accounts, credit cards, and more. So that you aren’t left with a broken heart as well as broken bank, ask yourself the following questions to help determine if your new cyber romance is legit or not:

• Does the guy seem too good to be true?

• Does he have an online dating profile picture that looks like it fell out of the pages of a magazine?

• Is he working overseas? Possibly in Nigeria?

• Does he profess his love and undying devotion to you almost immediately?

• Is his spelling/grammar atrocious and not aligned with his alleged education or life status?

• Is there a dire situation related to family troubles, business affairs, medical problems, etc. for which he requests money from you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may just have a romance scammer on your hands. Cease all communications immediately, alert the dating site on which you met, and if you have already given money to this person, contact the police.

Watch out for married men. Sadly, the internet is full of men subscribed to online dating sites who just happen to have wedding bands around their left ring fingers. These men tend to seek out online women who are trusting, naïve and can be easily manipulated so that an affair can be carried through. To make sure that you don’t become the target of a lying, cheating, no-good man with a wife, keep an eye out for the following red flags:

• He has no profile picture. This is so his face isn’t out there heightening the chances of him getting caught.

• He asks for your number but won’t give you his. If the guy is married, he can’t have you calling in case his wife answers.

• He won’t share information with you such as his last name, where he works, where he lives, etc.

• He contacts on an irregular basis. This is because married men usually have schedules filled up with other things—like marriages!

• He won’t invite you over or introduce you to his friends and family. A married man obviously can’t have you blowing his cover—if you meet the people close to him, the jig is sure to be up.

Follow online dating safety tips. A great way to safeguard yourself from encountering con-artists like scammers and married men is of course to educate yourself about them. But for further protection and to ensure that you don’t ever find yourself in a dangerous situation on your quest for online love, check out the general online dating safety tips below:

• Never give out personal information. Until you are confident that the guy you are mingling with online is worthy of your trust, never disclose your last name, home address, place of business, phone number, financial info, or any other identifying details.

• Don’t rush into things. No matter how excited you may be to meet an online match in person, it is imperative to take things slowly. Reputable online dating services offer tools such as email, chat rooms and voice chat through their websites to allow singles to get to know each other before meeting—utilize these!

• Plan a safe first date. If your online relationship has reached the point of a face-to-face meeting, that is great—just as long as you hold safety as your number one priority. For the first couple of dates use your own transportation to meet your match in a public place, let a friend know where you’re going, be aware of your surroundings, forgo alcoholic drinks and listen to your intuition!

Guest post author, Ellie Stevens, shares with us her tips on how to avoid being conned when dating online. In addition, Ellie also owns Free Senior Dating Sites where she offers more safe online dating advice for single seniors.


  1. Good ideas all. A friend (who just married her online guy) also made arrangements for a girl friend to call her 30 minutes into a date. The friend would know where she was and they had an innocuous code for "I'm ok, and feel comfortable with this guy" and one for "come meet me NOW". While she never had to use the latter one, she did have a friend nearby who was prepared to come and "bump into" them and then leave with my friend - if she felt like anything was weird. It's not a bad plan.

  2. Ellie,
    Thanks for writing this post, you’ve provided some great tips on how to not be conned on a dating site. As I mentioned in our correspondence I am reading, “The Con” by James Munton and Jelita McLeod, which includes a chapter on a woman who was conned on a dating site. The conman in her story was from Oklahoma, but had been working overseas for several years (Cairo) and ultimately needed her to cash a money order so he could come visit her. She did so, wiring him the money. You know where this is going, once he had the money she never heard from him again. Never wire money to anyone you have never met. Once money is wired out of your account it is gone for good and can’t be retrieved. I would say rule #1 when using a dating site don’t consider anyone who is not currently living in your country. If he sounds like the perfect catch, tell him you will connect once he is back in the states. Also, the con man in the book was a devout Christian. Often scammers use Christianity as a method of seeming legitimate. If he seems too good to be true be wary. He also wanted her to keep their relationship a secret. Why? If he was so wonderful why couldn’t she tell all her friends?

    I do know a couple who met on a dating site and are now married, so good things can come from them you just have to be wary and trust your gut.

    Also be wary of someone who contacts you on Facebook. Another gal in the book was scammed by someone posing as a former classmate on her Facebook account.

    Great plan. It is always a good idea to tell a friend or family member where you will be when meeting someone for the first time.

  3. OMG, this nearly happened to me which scared me off dating sites for good. Seemed like a nice guy. Said he was an antiques dealer who lived in my area but traveled to Africa a lot for his business. Seemed plausible but then everytime he wrote he happened to be overseas. Said he was a widow with a son who he was homeschooling. Okay, but I started feeling weird when he came on too strong. Then suddenly he says, his kid has contracted malaria and can I wire him $500 for medical bills, that he'd pay me back when he returned. Well, that did it. Any American worth his weight and traveling overseas, should have a credit card or, at least the wherewithal to ask their own bank to wire them the money. I immediately shut down my online dating account because it scared the heck out of me, how close I came to being conned. Lesson learned.

  4. Monica,
    You were a smart lady not to fall for his charms. I totally agree a world traveler like your admirer presented himself to be, would have had a credit card or some other access to cash. Also, his son should have been required to be vaccinated for malaria before traveling to Africa. I know a student traveling to Morocco this spring who has already received her vaccination. This is scary stuff. I hope we are getting the word out there to be cautious.

  5. Anonymous10:20 PM

    A must-read dating resource for all singles trying to find love online.

  6. Anonymous8:38 PM

    People want to believe.

  7. Great heads up about warning signs to watch out for when online dating. I've tried it a few times in my past and didn't have a good experience - I think like you've stated it is just so much harder to figure out if people are legit online. Unfortunately I've meet guys in person (not online) and they still turn out to be someone they claimed they were NOT. So, this advice you're giving really can apply to dating in general nowadays because you never can be too careful. Also, I've had to learn better how to "take things slow" so that I give myself enough time to get to know someone. In the past it's been hard for me because I'm someone who gets carried away by those initial emotions/sparks. Again, learning the hard way, I now make it a rule to be much more cautious when dating especially regarding letting the person into my private home space - the one place I should always feel safe. Great tip on meeting in a public place and letting a friend know where you are and who you are meeting with - something that seems so small but in the end can save your life!

  8. These are really great tips. I am single and I do use online dating sites to meet new people. These tips are right on time for me and so on point.

    Thanks for linking up for #FlashbackFriday!!!