Have you ever gotten an email from someone on an Internet dating site that sounded too good to be true? Where the person seemed SO into you SO quickly that it was almost unbelievable? If so, you've probably run into a scammer. And it IS too good to be true because it's not.
I'm usually very positive about online dating (because I've had the good fortune to meet several wonderful men that way), so I don't focus much on this problem when I'm coaching people looking for love. But recently one of my over-60 widowed clients ran into a scammer, so I wanted to discuss the "warning signs" to look for so you can avoid these folks.
A scammer is a person who pretends to like you and your profile but then turns out NOT to have any interest in getting to know you or date you. Sometimes, it is an unethical person playing on your heartstrings in order to later ask for money. Other times, it's someone seeking an American wife or husband in order to get asylum in the U.S. for any number of reasons.
Sadly, these people will take the time and effort to create a dating profile for the sole purpose of trolling online sites looking for "easy marks" they can try to take advantage of in some way. It's despicable, but it happens. Here's what to look for to make your online experience more pleasant and fruitful (so you can screen out the wrong people and free up time to find the right one). A scammer will often:
1. Write long, flowery emails filled with what sound like heartfelt compliments about very specific traits or preferences you mentioned in your profile
2. Send more emails than others you've corresponded with, even multiple times a day
3. Say he or she is just like you in certain ways that are meaningful to you, based on what you included in your profile. For example, he or she will claim to share your exact beliefs related to religion or spirituality and/or sound very impressed by your spiritual outlook.
4. Tell a sad story sure to elicit sympathy from you. For example, the man who scammed my client said he lost his spouse too, and she died in childbirth.
5. Be vague or evasive about his or her life or background. For instance, the man who scammed my client didn't list on his profile the town he lived in, the age of his kids, or what kind of job he had (which he said took him out of the country often on "business")...and kept dodging her questions when she asked about these details.
6. Ignore the age or distance parameters you listed in your profile. For example, the man who scammed by client was 5 years younger than her and more than an hour away (it's rare for men to seek older women, especially those who live a long distance away). He didn't seem to notice the age she listed for her ideal match.
Those are just a few of the many red flags. Your intuition will certainly alert you to many others. Listen to it! Don't ignore any feelings of discomfort or suspicion that come up when emailing on dating sites. If something feels strange about what the other person is or isn't sharing with you, stop communicating. Just don't answer his or her emails.
If the person persists, block future emails (easily done on most of the dating sites). Then, move on.
You can reduce the chances of being scammed by taking the initiative to write to matches yourself. YOU write to the people whose profiles appeal to you. That's how I met all the men I dated. If you sit and wait for others to contact you, there's more of a chance you could be chosen by a potential scammer. So I recommend you:
1. Do the searching yourself.
2. Don't believe everything prospects write in an email, especially if someone who doesn't know you gushes with many personal compliments.
3. Have a healthy dose of skepticism about everyone who contacts you until you learn more about him or her.
Armed with this info, I'm sure your online dating experiences will be better. Please contact me if you're still cautious and need some moral support before you proceed. Online dating is a GREAT tool if you know how to use it well! :-)