Since the beginning April of 2020 (in some cities well before) many singles came to the stark realization that their lives, at least their love lives, would never be the same. Enter the pandemic. For many people across the world local states and governments advised and at times mandated stay at home orders which made any social activities outside of the home nearly impossible.
This left dating in a unique place. While many dating apps and online dating services gained a spike in users, they also gained a spike in fraudulent accounts. When dating during a health crisis that encourages physically distancing, how can you verify the accounts you meet online are legitimate. An issue that has always haunted the online dating world.
Enter the dating scammer. New reports find that dating scams are on the rise as scammers worldwide take advantage of lonely singles who have been sidelined by the Covid-19 virus. According to the FTC, the reports of these online scams have nearly tripled in the past years, and in 2019 alone victims lost around $201 million from being swindled by their cyber sweetheart.
Dating was already difficult but in today’s times it’s become harder to distinguish genuine connections from the liars, cheaters, and even bots. The bottom line is to protect yourself. Love can be one swipe away but here are a few ways to identify if it’s not.
Ask For A Video Call
Can you imagine spending the rest of your life with someone? Truly falling in love and being loved in a healthy and fulfilling way? If the answer is yes then the best way to judge whether you’ve found a dedicated partner is to have a video call. Phone calls are fine as well, but nothing validates a person’s identity like video. For those who are self-conscious about how they look on video, be advised that when you meet the right person, they won’t be superficially attached to your looks. You wouldn’t be, right?
If the person you’ve met virtually refuses to get on video or makes excuses for avoiding it just assume that they aren’t who they say they are. Even if this isn’t a catfish, your potential paramour could be married, or entangled in a suspicious situation.
The best way to protect yourself from a scammer is to ask them to invest what you are willing to invest. That means proving their identity. They should want to confirm that you are who you say you are as well.
Never Send Any Money
It’s a wonderful feeling, falling in love. At the beginning of every courtship – virtual or otherwise – it’s easy to get swept up in possibilities. What if this person is the one? What if your single days are over? What if this is the EXACT relationship you’ve prayed and wished for. There is nothing that dampens the mood like fraud.
When you are in a committed relationship (if your courtship evolves to that) you want to give your partner anything. You want to help them as much as you can, in any way that you can. This kindness is often preyed upon by con artists who know that singles are vulnerable. It’s common to have a lover tell tails of sick children or relatives, travel woes including extradition, and robbery. If you are asked to send money of any kind including gift cards; decline.
Anyone who cares about you will respect your boundaries. You’re their partner not an ATM. Someone who loves you (as they might claim) can handle you setting personal boundaries. If you are asked to send money this is a red flag.
Connect On Social Media
Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m not on social media”?
Of course not everyone wants to take part in the mega conglomerate that is Facebook and Twitter, connecting on social media is a great way to confirm your matches identity. Even if you don’t have accounts on popular sites like Linkedin, or Instagram – create one. In the times we live in, it’s all too easy to lie to others about who we are. If your match is claiming to live in Idaho but really lives in Azerbaijan social media could be the clue to finding out.
Connecting on social media is another way to connect with your potential love. If anything it’s a great way to learn if they are using someone else’s name or identity. Oftentimes fake accounts will steal identities directly from Facebook making it easy to find out if your lover is real or not. If they are hesitant to connect on social media, claiming that they don’t have an account, take it as a red flag.
Keep Your Options Open
Even if you meet someone who is your soulmate, unless you make plans to meet in person, it’s best to keep your options open. The reality exists that your match isn’t who they say they are and they’re using the travel restrictions as a way to keep their real identity a secret. If you do find yourself tangled up with someone who can’t meet in person due to Covid-19, take it as a red flag. No matter how much you like them it’s best to keep your options open and continue dating.
Use Your Intuition Not Your Emotions
Your emotions and your intuition are not the same.
In dating, your emotions run high. It’s exciting. Finding love in a time when most people are lonely is certainly something to celebrate. If you find yourself getting swept up in a romance that seems surprising and unlikely it’s easy to ignore pink flags. If you were to get caught up with an online scammer you wouldn’t be the first and certainly not the last. If your intuition starts to raise concerns; listen.
Your emotions might be leading you down a dangerous road.
Dating expert Matthew Hussey offers great advice in the arena of managing emotions. He often says don’t treat someone based on how much you like them but on their efforts. You invest and then test. If you are emotionally invested, test your love to make sure that they are on the same page.
Small tests can include asking for money in return, or for small favors, or gifts. If someone is into you, they will happily comply.
As it becomes harder to navigate the dating world in a pandemic it’s important to protect yourself. Love can be found online but so can greed. Date discerningly and follow your instincts.