You will have come across a romance scam [although you may not have
recognized it!] if you have used online dating for any length of time.
They are called sweetheart scams and are rapidly increasing.
Some of the scammers take as long as a year to hunt for people's weaknesses
and find out what they care about, and then they go in for the kill.
No dating site is immune from them and everyone who uses a dating site is a
potential victim, and should be prepared for the most common
Some scammers seem to deliberately target groups set up for Christian
singles where people may be less suspicious. Meeting people on a Christian
site is believed to be safe.
There are many variations but they have some common themes:
You are approached on an online dating site by
somebody who lives locally but works abroad, or who lives abroad
The countries involved may include Nigeria, Ghana,
Ivory Coast or other west African country
Trust is built up between you and the scammer
The scammer suddenly has an urgent need for money
for a plausible cause and you are probably the only person who can help
You send them money
They need more and more money until you haven't got
any more, or you realise what is happening and stop communicating with
The scammers are capitalising on several advantages:
Online dating involves people looking for love and
their defenses could be lowered
You are single and looking for love so they will
play up to be the 'ideal date'
They have all the time in the world to build a
relationship over months or even a year - and will have hundreds of
scams going at any one time - so they can wait for the right moment
before asking for money
They prey on the fact most people using a dating
service probably won't have a strong support group around them to ask