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Online Imposter Scams
You meet someone special on a dating website or app. Not long after they want to email, call, or message you outside of the app. They tell you it’s true love, but they live far away — maybe for work or because they’re in the military.
The scammers strike up a relationship with you to build trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. Maybe it’s for a plane ticket to visit you. Or another type of emergency.
Scammers do these things to pressure to act immediately and give them money. But it’s a scam.
Privacy and Security Risks
Consumers are often asked to provide exhaustive personal information before they can register with an online dating service. How this information will be handled varies widely between companies.
Most companies keep certain information private while making other details available to other members or even to anyone with internet access.
Tips for protecting your privacy and using online dating services:
- Limit the personal information you give out. In the beginning, stick with the chat function within the app. Consider using a burner phone and an email address used only for this purpose.
- Don’t share any of your financial information and if you do have a good reason to send someone money (like to split the cost of a meal or concert tickets), use a peer-to-peer payment app like Venmo, Apple Pay, or PayPal.
- Conduct an online reverse image search to see where else the person’s image appears and whether it has been altered before you swipe right or pursue a relationship based on an online profile image. Watch this video to learn how to do that.
- Be suspicious if the other person refuses to talk on the phone or do a video call before you meet in person.
- Check to see if the other person is using a script to converse with you by running parts of it thru a Google search or online forums where former victims share their stories.
Here’s the bottom line: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.