The term “Dating Scam” is now becoming common place in newspaper headlines all over the world but are you aware of all the types of scams that exist? Did you know there are some dating scams that you will not loose any money or others that can threaten your entire business and personal life? Whilst dating is meant to be fun, we must also be realistic about the threats that meeting new people can pose. Dating safely is something we should always seriously , and here are just 4 of the most common online dating threats that are out there:
This has the minimal financial impact to yourself, you may not loose any money, but if you fall victim, the scammer will make money every time. Many dating sites as well as live sex cam sites have an affiliate program. People join the affiliate program and promote the site and earn a commission when an action takes place. Over the past few years many affiliate programs have transitioned to paying commission when a new free sign up is generated, rather than paying when a sale is made. A free sign up for an affiliate may be worth $2 to $7. So the scam is very simple, they ask you to join another site which they claim they use. You will not loose money but remember the person who is asking you to join another site is a career criminal, they are not a single person looking for a relationship. You’re just wasting your time.
Sextortion is blackmail with the threat of sharing your erotic pictures. Once the criminal has made contact with you they will ask you to exchange naked pictures or meet up on a webcam. The blackmailer will not be using a genuine profile so there may be some excuses as to why they cannot use their webcam or they may use a pre-recorded video that transitions into a lost connection to make it appear more genuine. The first step in their process is to collect the images and videos, the second is to find your true identity so they can track down family, friends or work colleagues. Finding out who you really are is very easy. You may have already told them during conversations and messages. If you agreed to a webcam meeting using a tool such a Google Hangouts it will expose your email address and that may connect them to a Google Plus, Facebook or Linkedin account. But one of the simplest ways is to use your profile picture. Most people have a picture they like and use it on all their social sites and dating sites. This allows the blackmailer to simply drag and drop your picture into a Google Image Search and it will reveal all the websites that you have used the same image. They will then know all your friends, family members and work colleagues. You will be blackmailed for them to keep your images and videos private.
This is the scam that most people are familiar with as it often makes news headlines where victims have lost many thousands. The scammer makes a fake profile, often with stolen pictures and you fall in love with them without ever meeting. After you’re hooked they will come up with a reason why they need money. The scammer’s fake identity will rarely be in the same country as you as they cannot meet in person. They will be aboard for business or education. Then a disaster will happen, such as being arrested or fined. Or there will be some amazing news that needs travel visas or investment to unlock some fantastic business opportunity. The romance scammers weakness is their fake identity. You will come up against a lot of excuses why certain things aren’t possible. Such as no phone, broken webcam or away and not contactable. You can perform background checks yourself with Google Image Search (just at the sextortion scammer will do) and request a validation photo with them holding an object of your choice. Even a long distance relationship should be easy for a genuine person. Webcam, phone calls and pictures should be free flowing and jumping on a plane and meeting should not be an obstacle. If it all seems too difficult, walk away.
There are a lot of online dating sites who’s primary income is generated by tricking their users. Some of them are very big named brands and only when they have been hacked does the true level of their deceit become exposed. The sites are typically adult dating focused with branding to entice males to join. These sites only want men and the women they have are non existent, they are just lines in database created in-house and operated by staff or computer scripts. The men join and get lots of messages from female members (who are not real) and are asked to upgrade to either read or reply to the messages. Assuming they don’t re-bill your credit card without your permission you’re going to loose a months subscription which may be around $50 (USD). If a site’s branding is hardcore or explicit in both visual and text you should be on your guard. A genuine single female is highly unlikely to join such a site. Your next step should be to read the terms and conditions. Typically, less the 0.5% of visitors read terms and conditions for a dating site and these types of scam sites know that. They are not breaking any laws as their terms and conditions will clearly state they have fake profiles. There will be marketing spin added to the reason why they create and operate fakes, they may even have a registered trademark for their term for fakes to make it sound like a benefit and to stop other people using the trademarked term when they try and expose their practices.
How to protect yourself
It’s a tough world for singles looking to find a partner. There will be criminals using genuine sites and legal sites that are not what they appear to be. Not only have you got to have the right profile, picture, opening lines, date venue and so much more but you have to avoid being scammed.
By following these 4 rules you can greatly reduce the nightmare of being a victim of a scam and can focus more of your time on finding that match of your dreams:
Never share personal explicit material
Never join another site
Never send money to anyone you meet online
Always read a site’s terms and conditions before you join
About the author ooOo dating is an online dating app that offers a unique way of matching you with potential dates, where you are shown 4 potential matches and you pick 1 and reject 3. The app is gamified by showing you how many of the 4 have said yes or no to your profile already. ooOo has a strong focus on business ethics, user privacy and cyber security
Image courtesy of Searick1 @FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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