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How To Stay Away From Trouble In Online Dating

by Louise W. Rice

Online dating is growing exponentially throughout the world.  It is so easy to meet others from your local area or outside the area you live in.  This includes meeting others internationally if you wish also.  Statistics show that in the United States alone, 40 percent of individuals belong to at least one online dating site, and surprisingly enough, more members are male.  But there are perils involved in online dating, and care needs to be taken.  While the possibilities are endless in online dating, so are the inherent risks.  Unfortunately, scammers lurk on online dating sites and look for others to prey on for money or gifts.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) lists the most common online dating scams.  These can include pretending to be someone working on an oil rig, someone working on a government contract, or someone pretending to be a doctor.  These generally are scams targeting females and use fake profiles and pictures they have stolen.  Many servicemen and servicewomen internationally find that their images are used to lure others into a scam relationship.  Both males and females are targeted in the military romance scams.

These types of scams are also called relationship scams and target males and females.

Men are also victims of online dating scams, but these generally involve a scammer pretending to be a female who needs assistance with bills or money for medical needs.  Both male and female scammers communicate with many individuals at once.  It is a fake profile with female scammers yet again, and a phony picture of someone else that is generally used.

There are new twists to these scams lately, with the scammer asking the victim to set up a bank account and launder money for them.  Any new acquaintance online asking for money or gifts or setting up bank accounts should be deleted and blocked immediately and reported to authorities if possible.  It is difficult to catch these culprits, though, as the country they state they are from is not the country in which they reside.  However, the FTC provides a form to fill out and report any type of suspected scam activity.

Some individuals on online dating sites are simply trolls.

Trolls are a strange entity, as they just enjoy pretending that they are someone else and, for some reason, like to lure others into a web of lies without any real objective in mind many times.  Scammers and trolls appear everywhere online on social media sites and other platforms, but dating sites are a favorite place for them to lurk as there is a selection of victims.  Members of dating sites are looking for companionship, friendship, or love, so scammers and trolls use the members’ emotions against them.

Trolls are, for the most part, malicious.  They can have an agenda, such as threatening to post intimate photos sent online unless a victim pays them not to do so.  This is, of course, blackmail.  Some trolls simply do it to alleviate their own emptiness inside and focus on a victim and post utterly horrid things online about someone they have never met.  They can pretend to be a celebrity or official, or even a long-lost friend.

Trolls can hijack others’ profiles and sometimes turn into stalkers.

The best way to handle a troll is to ignore them.  Since the main goal is to annoy and provoke a victim, ignoring them will make them go elsewhere.  They also should be reported if possible, especially if they continue the behavior to an alarming amount.

Trolls usually write voluminous text messages and emails to their victims, thereby drawing them in.  However, some trolls become obsessed and can damage a victim’s reputation with their phony stories and posts.  Trolls are everywhere online, especially on dating sites.  They are not as harmless as they seem.  Caution with trolls is needed just as with scammers, especially if the posting and texting become excessive.  This signals that a troll is now becoming a stalker.

It is possible to avoid problems in online dating by following a few simple rules.

  • First and foremost, remember the adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.” Someone who professes their love for you online immediately without really knowing you or meeting you is generally a scammer or troll. Love or friendship does not happen quickly. Knowing someone thoroughly before disclosing too much personal information or intimate details is imperative in avoiding online dating troubles.
  • Visit sites that contain information on scamming and trolling behaviors. These sites are incredibly useful in providing information on the stories most scammers or trolls tellDozens of these sites exist. Knowledge is always a great defense in staying safe in online dating.  Governments everywhere provide information on online scams.
  • Check out sites that provide free searches on individuals. Nuwber is a people search site with a massive database of USA citizens.  All that needs to be done is type in some information, and Nuwber provides details on where an individual resides and a lot of other useful information such as other sites where their name appears.  Searching a person’s data can help determine if someone is the “real deal” or just someone using a fake profile or someone else’s information.
  • Do a search on a person’s picture by inserting it into a Search Engine box. Sometimes this requires the downloading of software, but Google does provide information on how to do this without software.  It is done through Google Lens and does not work for all images, but it is worth trying.
  • Use your intuition! If something does not feel right about someone you are communicating with through a dating site, it is better to slow down or stop the conversations immediately.  Our instincts can tell us a lot, but too many individuals ignore their instincts.

Falling in love or even becoming good friends with someone online through a dating site can be an exciting and fulfilling adventure.  Common sense must always rule, though, or the experience can turn into a nightmare rather quickly.  Use caution, and enjoy dating sites, but forever remain alert for signs of trouble.

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