Trusting your gut when dating

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Here are six things to keep in mind to help you spot and avoid scammers on online dating sites.

Anyone can be the target and victim of these scams—men, women, young, old, gay, straight, white, black, Asian, Hispanic… But the FBI states that women who are “over 40, divorced, widowed, and/or disabled” are prime targets for scammers.

In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 (5,300) through online dating sites.

He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate.

If someone sends you a message and says they’d like to get to know you, save a copy of their picture and use Google’s reverse image search to see if anyone has posted about that photo being used for a scam.

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For example, scammers will often ask you to communicate with them outside of the dating site—via email, through Facebook, or even on Skype.

They’ll hit you with the full force of their charm; they’ll say sweet things, compliment you a lot, and talk about how perfect you are for each other within the first couple weeks.

Think about if you would find it strange for someone to be acting like this if you just met in real life.

Many scammers will be prepared to answer these and even more complicated questions, but if you can’t get answers from a suitor, you should be suspicious.

While there are online dating scammers from all over the world, a significant number of them come from non-English-first-language countries, which means that sometimes there will be communicative markers that indicate your suitor isn’t who they say they are.

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