BBB alert: How to spot online dating scams

By Reanna Smith-Hamblin - Better Business Bureau

It’s a great to meet someone, but unfortunately online dating is a popular place for scams. BBB is warning those who are “looking for love” to beware of scams.

How the Scam Works:

You sign up for an online dating website and receive a message from someone. He or she lives far away (scammers frequently claim to be in the military or working overseas). But you want to give it a chance, so you reply.

The love interest gets you “hooked” as you and he or she exchanged messages through the dating site. So then, you start emailing or chatting through a different service. Soon, you exchange photos and messages more frequently. You may even talk on the phone or through a webcam.

Now your relationship is getting serious, and your new love interest wants to visit. There’s just one problem. He or she doesn’t have money for the trip and asks for cash for airfare. But after you send the money, you find your new sweetheart has suddenly stopped communicating!

Unfortunately, online dating scams have been around for as long as the Internet has been around. Some scammers are even using social media, creating fake Facebook accounts and fake webcam footage. Some scammers will ask for money multiple times as the relationship progresses, continually upping the amount requested. Others will ask you to move money for them, which may make you an unwitting accomplice in another scam.

BBB Tips: Be Wary of Anyone who:

* Always has an excuse to postpone meeting. Someone really interested in a relationship will want to see you in person. Be wary of someone who is constantly “traveling” or always overseas.

* Has a photo that doesn’t match his/her profile: Lots of people fib in their dating profile, adding an inch of height or subtracting 10 pounds. But be on the lookout for big discrepancies. For example, a scammer may describe their fake persona as blonde but uses a photo of a brunette.

* Claims to be from this country but is currently traveling, living or working abroad. Scammers frequently pretend to be temporarily working or stationed overseas.

* Has a suspicious Facebook profile: Scammers often use the names and photos of real people to create fake Facebook profiles. Their profiles tend to have few friends and be rife with grammatical errors. Also check to see when they joined. Recent pages are another red flag.

* Asks you for money or credit card information. In some cases the scammer will claim an emergency like a sick relative or stolen wallet and will ask you to wire money. The first wire transfer is small but the requests keep coming and growing.

For more tips, go to or call 1-800-388-2222.

By Reanna Smith-Hamblin

Better Business Bureau

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