How to Avoid Dating Scams Even at Your Age

dating scams

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Dating scams? At my age?

If you find yourself thinking again about the dating scene, you might be wondering about whatever happened to the old days of finding date?

With school and maybe a regular job far away in the rear view mirror, meeting like-minded partners is not simple. As the years go on, it becomes harder and harder to find someone who shares common interests, does not have so much excess baggage that it is not worth the effort or has health problems you may not be prepared to take on at this point of your life.

You may be dabbling in dating apps, trying to find that perfect someone to just spend time with or, perhaps, for your next long-term relationship.

If you are just starting out in the second or third-time around dating game, you might want to be careful about which sites you go to and what your potential date might be promising.

Keep in mind that you are not alone as millions of people are turning to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money.

Last year, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams – a higher total than for any other type of scam reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

Beware of Fake Profiles

Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.

The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money.

The Lies Romance Scammers Tell

They’ll often say they’re living or traveling outside of the United States. We’ve heard about scammers who say they are:

• working on an oil rig
• in the military
• a doctor with an international organization

We’ve heard about romance scammers asking their targets for money to:

• pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
• pay for surgery or other medical expenses
• pay customs fees to retrieve something
• pay off gambling debts
• pay for a visa or other official travel documents

Scammers ask people to pay:

• by wiring money
• with reload cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam

Scammers ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous. They also know the transactions are almost impossible to reverse.

How to Avoid Losing Money to a Romance Scammer

Here’s the bottom line: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.

If you suspect a romance scam:

• Stop communicating with the person immediately.
• Talk to someone you trust, and pay attention if your friends or family say they’re concerned about your new love interest.
• Do a search for the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
• Do a reverse image search of the person’ profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam.

If you think it’s a scam, report it the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the website or app where you met the scammer, too.

If you paid a romance scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Here is a list of most used cards and contact info.

Tell them you paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money.

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