We all need a little love. Whether or not you believe that there’s a perfect romantic match for everyone in this world, a lot of us desire to be romantically involved with someone. A partner you can share your life’s best and worst moments with and who will always be there for you. We all know the cliché.
Sadly, not all of us can find a partner on our own, and that’s where dating apps and platforms come in. Today, there’s no shortage of online platforms waiting to help you find “the perfect person.” You could log on to any one of them, create a profile that highlights your best features, and see if there’s someone you like.
On the surface, a dating platform is a great idea. It takes the guesswork out of the entire process of meeting someone, essentially helping you to speed up a process that takes some people years to get completed. They’re also a great way to meet people if you’re new in a location. Some people go on dating apps looking to make friends, so they don’t feel alone in a new environment. If the friendship eventually turns into something romantic, so be it.
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Dating Apps Have Become Prominent
Funnily, these apps do produce results. A working paper from researchers at Stanford University and the University of New Mexico showed that in 2017, about 4 in 10 heterosexual couples (about 39 percent) and 6 in 10 same-sex couples (65 percent) met online.
The research, which was drawn from the How Couples Meet and Stay Together dataset, showed that online dating had outpaced meeting through friends and family among heterosexual couples back in 2013. Online dating has become the chief matchmaking medium among people. Between 1995 and 2017, the share of heterosexual couples meeting online had increased from 2 to 39 percent. Considering the level of penetration that the Internet age has achieved, this isn’t so surprising.
However, dating platforms have their drawbacks. Some paranoid people are generally skeptical about meeting strangers online, and some believe that needing a dating app or service to find someone- whether for a proper relationship or just casual sex- is a “loser move.”
The Issue of Romance Scams
Still, these notions are just part of the fundamental problem of dating apps. One of the most significant issues that these services tend to have is lax rules concerning identity verification. This means malicious individuals could easily pretend to be someone else and get away with it. And that leads to the problem of scams.
Romance scams are everywhere- social media, dating apps (e.g., tinder scams are very common), online message boards, and others. Once a platform provides the opportunity for people to interact with others, there’s a potential for romance scams to grow. But, it’s genesis can be traced to dating apps. They have grown so big they are now one of the biggest hunting grounds for scammers. Last February, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that romance scams cost Americans more money than any other type of fraud recorded in 2018. According to the regulator, over 21,000 people were tricked into sending money to their ‘lovers’ in 2018, to the tune of about $143 million.
As the report notes, the figures for 2018 were almost quadruple those recorded in 2015.
How Romance Scams Work
Romantic scams follow a specific M.O- someone logs on to dating service with a false identity, gets involved in relations with people, and uses several skills to make them “fall in love” over the Internet. When they see that they’ve been able to establish a connection, they start to ask for money.
The scam usually starts benignly. You could have been speaking to this ‘woman’ for months and consider yourself close friends. Then ‘she’ comes to you asking for some financial aid to support a ‘cousin’ who’s in the hospital. In your good nature, you try to help a friend out, so you give ‘her’ money. A few weeks later, she comes back asking for an even higher sum with some compelling reason or the other. As ‘she’ asks, you send.
Some scammers even go as far as claiming to be foreigners needing money to come to your home country so they can be with you. They send sultry pictures and videos regularly, promising to be “all yours” as long as you can help them secure visas. Your desire for a more intimate relationship will see you shell out thousands in the process, unbeknownst to you that all you’re doing is enriching a scammer’s pockets.
How to Avoid Romance Scams Online
1.Examine the profile picture
One of the hallmarks of a scammer is stealing the photograph of an attractive person from social media and use it as their own. So, if you suddenly get approached by a lady whose breasts are flaunted online, you might want to check the picture well before you start imagining what your life will be together.
Just copy the picture and paste it into Google’s Reverse Image Search. If you see that the picture has been used in social media by someone who has a different name, then you know the person who contacted you is a scammer.
There aren’t many services that offer identity verification for dating services, but there are services that provide online identity verification. VerifyMe, Jumio, Trulioo, and much more provide online identity verification to people, and all you have to do is provide them with the details you already have. They’ll cross-reference these details with records and look into whether the details you’re getting from a potential partner are real or not.
One of the most in-demand identify verification services is Been Verified– a platform that allows you to check people via their public records and any information available about them on the Internet. Over a million people have been verified on the platform already, and it does a rather thorough job of verifying if someone is who they say they are.
Some dating apps also provide identity verification features. Tinder recently launched new safety features, including providing a verified checkmark to users who pass its catfishing test.
3. Check the grammar
Many scammers are not native English speakers. It’s not their first language- it’s usually their second or third. Check for things like obviously misspelled words, wrong use of capital letters, terrible punctuation, and excessive capitalization as well.
Scammers work in teams, with multiple people using the same profile. So, if you see that the person you’ve been chatting with has an inconsistent writing style, you should raise an eyebrow.
You should be wary of anyone who starts to ask you for money a few days after initiating contact. Yes, you might have a good heart, but you also need to be smart. When a supposed lover starts to ask for money regularly, be suspicious.
No scammer wants to meet you. They often prefer to send someone else’s raunchy pictures to you and have you become a human ATM. When you try to meet up, they either bring up some excuse or call at the last minute to cancel. That’s a red flag right there.
One time is pretty normal, but multiple times is definitely a red flag.