Romance scam: How to avoid falling prey to online dating scamsters

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 14, 2020, 11.39 PM(IST)

Image for representation. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Americans lost 201 million dollars to romance scams last year. Authorities say its a 40 per cent jump from 2018.

And it's a good time to talk about how the whole idea of meeting the 'special someone' has changed over the years. Matches today aren't made in heaven. They are made online. 

Cupid has been replaced by social media and dating apps. But not everyone is using these mediums to find a partner. Some are signing up intending to dupe people.

But in this space between two devices is a lot of room for fraud. 

How do you know that the person you are talking to is who he or she claims to be? How do you know that the profile isn't fake? Is there any guarantee that you aren't being conned?

He or she who is stealing your heart may also be stealing your money. It's called the romance scam. This is how it works. Some con-artist poses as your perfect match. You share your stories. And plans of a future together. Soon he or she asks for money. And the moment you send it and they disappear.

Americans lost 201 million dollars to romance scams last year. Authorities say its a 40 per cent jump from 2018. In the United Kingdom too. It's a similar story. 

Romance scams were up 64% year-on-year. In the first half of 2019. 

Researchers say 55% of people who use online dating services are leaving themselves vulnerable to scams.27% of the UK's online daters said they were catfished.

In Spain, a man was nicknamed the king of tinder. This after he duped multiple women of their money. India too isn't a stranger to online dating scams.

At least 100 men recently fell prey to a gang's honey-trap operation. Among the victims were some top corporate honchos. It happened on a dating app for gay men. The gang would befriend victims online. Call them to isolated spots.

And once they were physically intimate, the gang would rob or beat the victims. They also used compromising photos to blackmail the victims.

So, if you are single and looking to mingle. But don't want to get entangled in a dating scam.

Here are some tips you may want to follow

1: Run a quick online search of the person you are talking to. 

2:  Ask questions.

3: Video call them to make sure their profile photos aren't fake. 

4: Don't share your private information. 

5: Beware of those who avoid meeting in person. 

6: At the end of the day, it's better to be safe than sorry.