How is online dating different from offline? Both have their own scams, considering the old times when people were cheated on before the internet era. The internet has been most popular with smartphones since 2007. So, the older generations might find online dating weird and not acceptable up to some extent.

Receiving information from the news about online scams and hacking scams influences their (the older generation’s) opinion of online dating. As internet users, we know that’s not always the case. There are genuine people out there; we have many #WeMetOnTwitter stories, Tinder dates, and other success stories. Yet, we often hear people saying, “Be aware of people online,” “Don’t trust anyone,” etc. For online dating to be in the positive limelight, one should know the possible scams so that they can avoid them and have a good dating experience.

Online Dating more dangerous than offline dating?

Is our fantasy our secret enemy?

Being in one’s own fantasies while dating, people look for certain characteristics. Quite often, past experiences influence current decisions on choosing someone. When someone is kind, considerate, funny, or is just like any other guy out there, he/she might look ideal in one’s perspective. Then, it is this perspective, which the scammers use to trap a vulnerable person while dating.

Your fantasy is not your enemy, as long as you don’t put blind trust. Wanting a perfect dating experience, though the person isn’t your soul mate, is something we all wish for. It is good to have a preference. Having your weakness (like loneliness, fear, pressure from family) control your impression is not the right way to trust someone.

According to research, anyone can get scammed while online dating. In general, 45% of men and 55% of women tend to get scammed online. These scams aren’t about spending time with a person and breaking up. They are situations where people have lost their money or assets, in addition to being lied to or being used in an unethical manner. People go through so much in life, leading to one simple message from a random person fluttering their heart. The situation is understandable, which is why you need to know how scammers think and figure out how they are different from genuine people in search of love. In the end, you have to look after yourself.

Spotting the scammers 

Here are some common reasons why you should doubt someone in certain situations. These are tips based on interviewing thousands of victims of online dating scams. It might not always be helpful, and doubting a genuine person could possibly ruin your relationship with them. On the other hand, if the person doesn’t understand that you are just looking out for yourself, you might need to re-think your relation with them.

  • Excuses – When they keep giving reasons and sound off regularly. At times, even the most genuine reasons can be lies if they keep giving excuses to meet you or spend time with you despite dating for a long time.
  • Asking for gifts – It feels good to buy our loved ones a gift. But, these scammers repeatedly take small gifts. Such gifts are difficult to track for the police when the victim files a complaint.
  • Talk less once you pay them money – For scammers, this is work. They try to get your pity. They get your attention. This isn’t dating. Many victims reported that fake accounts tend to reply less and less once their need is fulfilled.
  • No friends, relatives, or close persons – Online scammers work alone and usually are seen as one person. It would be difficult to involve many people. However, when some plan to swindle a large amount of money, they could involve one or two persons in their act. Try to get to know the person, his/her personal life. Getting little details won’t harm you.

Types of people who are targeted by scammers 

Types of people targeted can vary. It depends on how well the victim gets connected. There is no limitation with respect to age, gender, or ethnicity. Anyone can be targeted as long as they have some money or an asset like gold, a house, etc. Here are some common characteristics which the so-called “scammer” looks for in a person.

  • People who are vulnerable – emotionally or physically
  • Those who are expressive
  • Someone with a tough past
  • Lonely, with no one to take care of them
  • Who are kind and ready to help

Let’s be realistic, who doesn’t have at least one of the above characteristics? This in no way means that being emotional or expressive is of disadvantage. While these fake profiles look for “weak points,” you can learn how to ackowledge them and be a stronger person.

Yes! it is confusing for us all…

The people who were targeted weren’t necessarily rich and well-off. Scammers have even robbed $4000 of life savings from an old lady. When you meet a fake person (the scammer) in real life, they might seem to be genuine from their looks. Their way of talking can be charismatic, yet they still can be a fraud who cheats people. It is better to keep an eye on the one you are dating till there is utmost assurance. For us, as victims, this can be a heartbreaking situation. For them, it is work, and they will take extreme measures just to get your money. 

Share your experiences

Of course, the main reason most of us date online is, we want to avoid sharing awkward experiences with our friends and family. Nobody would want to tell out loud, “I got ditched,” or “I don’t have a love life.” The secrecy is important. However, it would be better if you could share your experience with at least one close person who is supportive and understanding.

At least make sure to give the bare minimum details. The reason behind this suggestion is, being blinded by reality is possible when there is romance. The chemistry between two people might lead to ignoring something that was right in front of them all along.

Telling your version to your friend might give them an idea of whether it is okay or not. True, it can be hard to tell that you are involved with a guy/girl online and you have never met them. Not everyone can accept the new methods. However, it isn’t hard to try and not regret your actions later on. Play safe!!

Sharing sensitive information

Sending a romantic message is easier than saying it out loud. This is why it is easier for scammers to cheat with online dating. Most times, sharing personal information like family details or work information seems harmless. For scammers, this is valuable information. Usually, the police suggest that you better take your time and then carefully decide on whether you should share such information. Remember, the person might seem like the noblest person; quite often, they aren’t so in reality.

Sending nudes is another common activity of online dating. This can emotionally damage a person for life. It is very difficult to stop someone from sending something in the heat of the moment. The only way to be 100% safe is to avoid sending any intimate pictures, but there are precautions you can take, like not including your face. Try to edit it a bit, just in case. Maybe if you make it look like just another naked picture on the internet, you too would feel at ease if you break up with them sometime in the future. Safety is most important, and the other person should understand that if they genuinely care for you. 

My opinion: offline or online, which is safer?

You know about offline dating. You may or may not have experienced them, seen them in movies, and read in stories. You compare the situations, and you can decide on which is safer for you.

Having been part of both the online and offline dating eras, they both look very similar to me. It could be a fraud in both cases, and it could be genuine too. For any kind of dating, we need to have a certain amount of “doubt.” Only then we would pay attention to little details. Overdoing can make you look paranoid, so the amount of trust should be balanced. Take your own time and get to know the person. There is no need to rush things. And remember, online dating is equally important as offline. 

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