In the meantime, there are a couple of easy things you can do to avoid falling victim to a romance scam.Don’t hesitate to search online, using a suitor’s full name, to see whether his or her photos and claims match his or her social media imprint. Often scammers will use glamorous pictures stolen from someone else with model looks.But by learning how to take the right steps to protect yourself, you can avoid becoming one of those victims while still taking advantage of the benefits online dating can offer.Typically, con artists create fake profiles on dating sites, which may be carefully tailored to match your interests and what you have said in your own profile about what you’re looking for in a potential partner.
“My friend was messaging with this guy, who said he was an oil executive flying in and out of the country, stringing her along with excuses for not meeting up.” When the suitor emailed her to say he was in jail and needed bail, the woman’s friends felt compelled to step in.
“And then he just disappeared.” But not everyone manages to escape an online romance scam unscathed.
According to the FBI, in the last six months of 2014 Americans lost more than million to online dating fraud in situations similar to the one Riolo recounted. When someone you haven’t met in person wants to quickly leave the dating site’s messaging apps—and the privacy they offer—to talk by phone or send messages to your email address.
Monica Whitty, a psychologist and the author of “Truth, Lies and Trust on the Internet” (Routledge, 2008), is working to develop new ways to detect and prevent online fraud, such as software with the potential to identify scammers through the language they use.
And AARP is petitioning leading online dating sites such as and Ok Cupid to educate its members on how common and devastating—financially and emotionally—these scams can be.