Dear Charly: what should I do if I suspect someone is a scam profile?
Our resident agony aunt, dating expert Charly Lester, advises an online dater concerned concerned that they might be messaging with a scam profile
What to do if you feel like someone is messaging you for the wrong reasons – I think they might be a scam profile?
As a general rule of thumb, if someone ever makes you feel uncomfortable – for any reason – terminate your conversation with them and block them. If they’ve done something specifically unsavoury or suspicious then also report them to the dating site and explain why you’re reporting them.
When you’ve just met someone, it’s important to keep communication on the dating site platform rather than moving to text messages, email or WhatsApp. That’s because, while you’re on the dating site, the site can easily help you to terminate or investigate conversations, and if they see any suspicious behaviour they’ll shut it down.
For this reason, scammers will often try to get you off the dating site and onto another form of communication as quickly as possible – that way their messages to you can’t be monitored. If someone insists on taking your conversation off the site very quickly then this can be an indicator of potentially underhand behaviour.
There are a couple of other indicators that you can look out for if you think you might be talking to a scam profile.
They may offer up reasons why they’re out of the country and unable to meet up – military service, for example. They say they’re local but they don’t seem to have any local knowledge when you ask them about nearby landmarks or venues. Their profile might sound odd with a lot of flowery, romantic language or weird phrasing. Many scammers don’t speak English as a first language and this may be evident from the way that they speak to you.
Don’t assume that, just because someone has a lot of photos or use selfies, they are who they say they are. It’s very easy to steal images from social media and pretend to be someone else online. Details described in their profile might also not match with their photos, such as mentioning the wrong hair or eye colour.
If you think that you’ve spotted a scammer, you can do a Google image search to trace their photo to other websites. There are databases of common scammer and catfish photos, and sometimes, a false photo can bring up another person’s social media accounts. You can also search sections of the dating profile text online to check that the sentences haven’t been taken from commonly-used scammer profiles.
Never give money to someone that you’ve never met in person and never share your personal details such as your address, date of birth or bank details. And even if you have met up with someone, apply caution when it comes to giving them personal information. It’s not normal behaviour for someone to ask you for money when you’ve only just started dating.
Online dating can be a really fun and rewarding experience, but just make sure that you protect yourself and apply caution to the process too.
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