Once again, it’s time to catch the latest and greatest of all dating guides: Dating 911!  I should level with you.  Which basically means, I need to tell you to give up now.  Because it’s a war zone out there, I tell ya.  A war zone.  Once upon a...

  Now?  Well, forget it.  It’s like dating WrestleMania where every man is for himself. You might not just come out alive.  Some people give up altogether and seek other forms of entertainment.  But you are still here.  So . . . I guess I may as well cover the next section of our Dater’s Guide which I promised two weeks ago.  The Guide presents Dating 911! Welcome to Dating 2019, A Scammers Delight.

A couple of weeks ago, I know I promised to do a whole topic on scammers out there in the world.  But I felt like it wasn’t enough talking about why we kept repeating our mistakes.  The first post talked about forces that were beyond our control or addictions we developed which can overtake our own will.  So, I felt I needed to discuss how we also contributed to continued dating failures with the meme-like statements and ideas we have internalized.  I needed to show how they affected our way of thinking and prevented the kinds of changes we needed to make if we were to be more successful in dating relationships.  Of course, I admit personal failure as I have internalized many of those dating mistakes. Which means, why are you reading this again?  Hmmm…

As much of a failure as I have been, for the most part, no one learns from someone else’s mistakes.  We all end up coming face to face with our own shortcomings.  But if you can recognize a few of these shortcomings for ourselves, maybe we move on and make better decisions in the future.  Maybe.

Which brings us to this week.  Scammers.  You can’t live with them . . . fill in the blank here.

As opposed to our own internal issues, or the craziness of the dating world and how it sets us up for failure, this week’s issue covers something outside of ourselves.  It’s about those who would take advantage of our own vulnerabilities, especially as regards dating.  We have enough going on to worry about.  And dating these days is messy enough as it is.  Now we have to deal with these cretins who would rob us blind and leave us on a street corner?!?!

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  And so all I can do is talk to you about who they are, what they do, and possibly give you a few tips on how to avoid them altogether.  But, if you are dating, and online, you will face these people.  So let’s help you trim the sails to make the dating craziness a little less crazy.  At least by magnitude.

Dating 911! – Dating Scammers.  Who are they?
They come in all shapes and sizes.  And they come at you for a variety of reasons.  In fact, if you knew the life of a dating scammer, you might feel sorry for them, except that they went after you when you were vulnerable.  So screw that!!!  I’d basically say these scammers fall into a few categories which go as follows:
The Foreign Scam Artist –
These scammers come from overseas.  More than likely the individual is not the scammer.  They are usually working with some kind of group.  They have been set up to scam you with a number and all kinds of information.  Often, they will have several different people having to work the scam on you. Not just one.  When the person who talks to you at 6:00 pm doesn’t remember the conversation you had at 10:30 that morning, more often than not, it’s a foreign-born scam artist.

A secondary clue to the foreign scam is the poor English writing skills or poor writing skills in the language of the country you are from.  I’m not talking about the people who use R for the word are, or U for the word you.  I’m talking about people who when you read their stuff, the verbs aren’t conjugated properly, and the phraseology seems all wrong.  They wouldn’t know an idiom if it hit them in the face.
The American/Local Scam Artist –
These people speak English or your own language well.  They may even be willing to talk to you.  It could be the phone, WhatsApp, Kik, or some other chat device.  They will come to you with a story.  It’s a well-rehearsed story, but it’s a story.  They will discuss the fact they live locally, or somewhere in the U.S. at the very least.  But you may never get a real accurate description of where they are at.  Ultimately, they will need something from you.  It could be your credit card number, for you to sign up on a website, or simply wanting money from you via Venmo, CashApp or some other payment service.  You will know it’s US-Based if the person requests money via one of those payment services.
Dating 911! What Scammers Have In Common.
There are all different kinds of scammers, as they are all different kinds of scams.  And I will get into the specifics of the types of scams later.  But for now, I want to tell you there are some basic rules of thumb which are true for all scammers.  You wouldn’t think it possible if they come from different places running different kinds of scams.  And no, what they have in common isn’t all about money, although the desire for the money may be at the heart of it.  What I’m talking about here is the approach.  How the scammers approach you contains very similar components no matter the type of scam they run.  The similar components are the following:

Few Pictures –
It comes down to this.  If they put up more pictures, they will be caught.  They can put one picture up.  But putting any more puts them at risk.  Someone is likely to notice the picture exists on another profile, or it’s used somewhere else.  As these scammers frequently select photos of models, which makes sense as they are trying to attract you, putting up more than one picture will increase the likelihood of them getting flagged down the line.  It’s one thing if you steal one picture.  It’s an entirely different issue if you steal multiple pictures of the same person.  And it would have to be the same person because you would know it’s not real if they are of different people.

Few Personal Details –
While they have no problem creating a story for why you need to help them (they sound a lot alike when you hear enough of them), creating a backstory online doesn’t seem to appeal to them.  I’m guessing it’s because they are running several scams at the same time, using different pictures to run the same scams.  To try to create a back story for each and every one of their people they create would take too long.  And they aren’t about wasting time because they know the longer you hold out, the more likely you will recognize you are getting played.  Which brings us to our next similarity.

Instant Intimacy –
They want you to feel connected to them right away.  They need you to feel like you have the possibility of getting something from them.  What that something is may differ.  But they will want you to feel a connection with them on some level.  Ultimately it will be about your money.  But they will begin by finding ways to tell you what they think you want and show how they are the embodiment of the thing you want.  This is their attempt to hook you.

Moving Off The Dating App –
Imagine the Dating App is their Ad space.  They want to get you off of there and on some other communication platform, they feel they can control.  They don’t want you asking questions about their add, or noticing contradictions.  And they certainly don’t want to see you see another ad with the same picture and a different name.  Getting you off of there is imperative.  They cannot act in one way or pretend to be something while they are on there.  The page would be flagged and taken down.  So they have to keep the profile record clean.  Hence they will move to another means of communication.
Dating 911! The Scams They Play
Up til now, I’ve discussed the places scammers come from, and the ways they are similar.  If you notice any of the previous things I mentioned, this should be a giant red flag to you.  You should run away screaming to the dating app and have them flag the ISP so it can be avoided coming up on their app, to begin with.  The dating app will be thankful.  They realize the longer they operate the app, the more likely these scammers will infiltrate their apps.  And the more scammers on an app, the more likely people will move on to something else.  So, no matter the motive of the dating app, they will be thankful for your help when you honestly flag someone.

The problem is, you don’t like to flag someone unless you are sure, which makes you hesitate.  And when you hesitate, sometimes they have a larger opportunity to sucker you into something more.  They have been at this for a lot longer than you have most likely.  So they will know the buttons to push which work the best to get the most amount of money.  And while all the previous are true of all scammers, they could be true of a legitimate person as well.

What if it’s someone brand new and they feel an instant connection to something you said online?  Maybe it’s naive but possible.  And what if the profile is relatively new, or they are trying to protect their privacy?  Finally, what if the person is tired of the people on the dating app and you seem legitimate so they want to move off of it quickly.  All things I have heard from legitimate people on the internet. 

So merely recognizing these signs is only a “red flag” and not necessarily proof positive of a problem.  Which means you need to know what the scams are should you take the leap with them off the dating app and into the adventure they have planned for you.  The following is a description of the scams I have run across.  I’m sure there could be more, but I haven’t run across them yet, thank God.

Scam #1: The Nigerian Scam –
If you have been around the internet long enough, you will have heard of this scam.  Honestly, it’s probably a bit overbroad to say the Nigerian Scam.  Because Nigerians run a whole host of scams on the internet using a multiplicity of the medium.  They have been at it for so long.  But I’m not going to cover all the various scams the Nigerians run.  Check out James Veitch’s YouTube Channel to learn more.

What I’m interested in here is the dating scam.  I will begin with the fact that this dating scam has migrated.  It used to be always in Nigeria or some other local African country.  But I’ve seen this scam happen all over the globe, even within countries.  So it’s mutated into various locations.

The scam itself goes something like this.  I live next to you.  Because, of course, I live next to you.  That was in my dating profile, wasn’t it?  This person has to go somewhere.  And they cannot meet you before they go somewhere OR they are already at this place which they needed to go.  Usually, there was a family member and possibly a fortune involved.  Now that they got there, things didn’t work out as they thought.  They are going to need some money (most likely), or for you to give them personal information so they can mail something to you (less likely).

The most likely option leads to them asking for money they hope you will give them.  They will talk about meeting you, and how wonderful that will be.  They will also discuss the kind of debt they will be in if you don’t give them the money.  It’s designed to play at your heartstrings while they hope to have hooked you with some faux intimacy.  As online dating does lead to some fantasy type thinking, this scam can work very well.  These scam artists realize the weaknesses in online dating and exploit it to their advantage.

But let’s assume you are smart.  And you won’t give them the money.  But having them send you a package couldn’t be too bad, could it?  They just need to mail you something. And all you need to do is provide them with some personal information, beginning with your address.  Do you know how insane it would be to give them that?  You have already put down some dating location on your profile unless you were lying.  And they have your age unless you were lying. (They count on you not lying because it would be lying to a potential date, which would be bad form.)  If you give them your address, expect to get a call from a credit agency about being in a ton of debt.  Because identity theft will be the very next thing that happens.

Scam #2 The Military Scam –
I haven’t been presented with this one quite as frequently.  And I really haven’t gone along with it long enough to find out.  But you will see someone who is wearing fatigues from some branch of the military.  They will talk about looking forward to being home or getting out of service somehow.  You, yes you, will be the key for them to escape this life and be happy.

These scammers count on you being sympathetic to someone in uniform.  And who isn’t really?  These are people who put themselves at risk to serve and protect you.  So when they say they want out, and they would be happy to see you, you feel this strange bond come over you.

STOP!!!  These people will be asking for your information once again to be able to extricate themselves from their situations.  Usually, they don’t ask for money, although I suppose one or two has.  They usually ask for your information, and for you to sign something for them if possible.  DON’T!!!  A signature is something they could forge to take out a loan or apply for credit.  You have provided them too much information unwittingly.  Providing them any more increases the likelihood of identity theft.

Just think of it as stolen valor.  Most likely, this person isn’t a person in the armed services at all.  Which basically means it is stolen valor, one of the biggest crimes for those people who have served.  It’s disrespectful to those who have served to pretend to be something you are not.  So don’t take pity.  Realize what it means when they ask for your information.

Scam #3 The Protection Scam –
This particular scam plays on your own fears about something happening to you while dating.  We all understand how crazy the dating world has become.  And with this understanding, we all know how important it is to play it safe.  So along comes this delicate flower who feeds into all of your need for self-worth.  She will laugh at all your jokes, and find you so very fascinating.  But she’s also a very cautious woman who needs to play it safe.  You understand this very well.  In fact, f you are a good guy, you have probably heard about all the horrible things guys have done while on dates.  All she wants is some proof you are a good guy.  So sign up for this little site and prove you are a good guy to her.

There is no site which “proves” you are a good guy.  In fact, even if a site could say there are no outstanding warrants on you, it would still not prove whether you were a threat.  After all, serial killers look just like us.  And then there is always the Ted Bundy Saga.

Regardless, whatever place she has you sign up, she will want you to put in a credit card.  It comes down to it being an adult verification site for an adult website.  Even if you click all the right links to make sure you won’t be paying money, there will be another hoop she will ask you to go through.  And with that another.  It just makes me wonder how many adult sites try to get customers to pay for their services this way.  It seems so wild.  Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry on the web.  I guess this must be part of the reason why.

Scam #4 – The Webcam Girl Scam –
All of the previous had variants for males and females.  They could be operated by either sex.  While I’m sure it’s possible there could be males out there seeking women to see them naked on their porn page, I’m guessing it is rare.  I’ve mentioned this scam before to women, and they seemed surprised to hear of it.  Which basically means it’s only directed at us men.

I suppose with our own penchant for loving visual stimulation, this makes more sense.  It mostly comes down to them wanting you to join their website with the “possibility” that you may meet them.  All you need to do is to join their website.

From a certain perspective, I suppose you can appreciate the straightforward nature of this transaction.  At least they are being honest about what they are asking for.  They will get naked if you pay them.  Congrats.  If that’s all you wanted, you can have it.  I have no judgment for you, just so long as you go into it with your eyes open.  As for me, it feels like they go to a place where men are vulnerable already, looking for women online.  And they manipulate your desires to get what they want in the end, your money.

One last caveat, do not indulge yourself or think somehow you can talk them into a date.  And definitely do not hang around to hope you will get something for free.  One tried to get me to use someone else’s credit card to gain access to her site claiming it was her own.  That way I would have been guilty of the fraud and not them for using someone else’s card.  Also, it makes you wonder how they procure these credit card numbers, and the risk you would take signing up for a site like that in the first place.

Scam #5 The Snapchat Girl Scam –
Women direct this scam at the primarily male audience.  It’s basically a version of bait and switch.  You go onto a dating website where you are looking for someone to connect with.  There they leave some form of information (not their email or phone number which a website might flag) like an Instagram account or a Snapchat account.  It would appear as of this writing, the dating sites haven’t caught on to this deal.  Or maybe they encourage it because it puts more beautiful women on their pages, and yet these women have no interest in dating or no interest in dating the guys who would visit them.

From there, they mostly funnel you onto Snapchat where they go in several different tracks.  One of them is a prostitution track.  It’s pay for sex.  Kind of shocking to see it on any social media site and have them hope to stay in business.  But it’s there and prevalent.  And as Snapchat doesn’t save the stories, unless someone saves them and complains, these women operate under the radar.

The second track turns into a porn page for the women involved.  They have a free account where they flirt and encourage you to pay for their services.  Each account has separate dollar values, and they make money off you while hinting at the fact you might be able to see them sometime.  I’ve met some honest ones who will tell you straight out that you will never meet them.  But mostly they hint at the fact you might.  All you need to do is pay for their pay Snapchat where they will provide porn level content.

Once again, no judgment if this is your thing.  If you are ok paying for seeing a naked woman who may send you the occasional message, be my guest.  But, unless all you were doing on the dating app was trying to meet someone for sex, you didn’t come there for that did you?  They have bait and switched you, counting on your desire and the fact they gave you just enough of a taste to want to pay for their site.  If you don’t feel taken, maybe you should.
Dating 911! – The Elephant In The Room – The Catfish

Obviously there are other scams out there.  Whatever small amount of scams I put here would pale in comparison to a large number of scams out there.  Some scam artists are more or less honest about what they are there for.  But all count on your good graces.  And while I have covered many forms of scam artist here, I have left one out, the Catfish.

Everyone or most everyone should know what a Catfish is by now.  There are television shows discussing the Catfish and what they do.  Yet, I have not covered it here.   Why?  I have two things to say.  One, I do feel like Catfishing deserves its own Dating 911! discussion, much like I did a previous post on Ghosting.  But two, Catfishing has a distinct difference from the typical scammer.  Because for the most part, and I say this only, for the most part, their primary gain from the Catfishing experience is not financial.  And so it differs in kind from a typical scam.  In fact, some people who have been catfished don’t feel scammed at all when all is said and done, which is wild. But as I’ve said, that is for another post.
Dating 911! Methods For Detecting Scammers
I have given you several of the methods of detecting Scammers here including their basic similarities and then some of the types so you can recognize what is going on when it happens to you.  But there are a few other ways to recognize a scammer quickly and do what you can to extricate yourself from the situation immediately.  I didn’t put them down previously because they were not something that all scammers used, and they didn’t fall into a particular type of scam.  With that in mind, here are a few of the other methods for determining scammers:

Pictures Do Not Match –
Frequently you will see one picture on the webpage and something else when you end up talking to them via email.  When it happens, you know you have run into a scammer.  It’s one thing if the change is cosmetic in nature.  Longer hair.  Different Color Hair.  Even several pounds heavier or lighter is fine.  But when it’s not the same person, then you know it’s time to block this person from contacting you again.

Massive Emails –
Imagine you go to a dating app with sparse details about this person.  But you shoot them a message, and they tell you to move to “fill in the blank” because they aren’t there very often.  Makes sense.  You don’t trust someone who is on the dating app all the time anyway.  Hence, you are all up for the change in venue.  So you shoot them your email.

What comes back to you feels like a novel in comparison with what you have read in the past.  Somehow you were talking to them online where they spoke in brief sentences and then could put together a treatise on an email?!?  I don’t think so.  And you didn’t even ask about their parents, or their stance on religion and politics yet.  Why did they feel you needed to know this soon?  Even if it weren’t a scammer, running away might be a good idea anyway.

But it is a scammer.  It’s that intimacy building I talked about earlier.  The super email is part of it.  Not everyone does this super email.  So it’s not always a thing.  It does happen a bit, however.  Hence, if it happens to you, say goodnight.

Forgets Significant Details of Conversations Past –
I discussed this briefly before so I won’t get into it again.  Just know when the person doesn’t remember details of conversations you had, it’s very possibly a scammer.  It’s one of those things where when other scamming things have occurred proves further this person wants your money.  But even if they don’t and they aren’t a scammer, if they cannot remember significant parts of conversations you had (which they can refer to over text or email), how interested can they be in you anyway?
Wrapping Up Dating 911! Welcome to Dating 2019, A Scammers Delight
When it comes down to scammers, realize they are playing on a part of your emotional self which you have made more vulnerable by seeking out a date on a website.  They count on sympathy, connection, and our ability to fantasize and fill in the gaps about other people.  While not everyone is a scammer, it should make us pause in how we handle those people who are not scammers, so we are less likely to be fooled by those who are.

And it makes it worse when we arrive on the dating scene in our mid to late 30s and early 40s, being beaten down by a divorce, and trying to cope with this massively changed dating landscape.  We are a little vulnerable as is.  So take care of yourself out there.  And don’t be fooled.

I go by two rules in dating online which have served me well and have limited scammers in my life.  Number one, people need to handle their own problems before getting into a dating situation.  Or at the very least, not involve you in them.  If you are being dragged into their problems, they probably aren’t worth it.  Number two, you cannot say you know someone until you have spent significant time in their presence.  This limits fantasizing.  And it prevents people from being able to manipulate you into thinking you are helping out a loved one when you don’t even really know the person, or even if the person is a person.  I hope these two rules can help you out a little bit as well.

Until next week (maybe), stay safe out there while you are dating.  And if you know someone from your real life you are possibly interested in, always a safer bet than someone online.  Good luck!
Continue The Conversation – Dating 911! Scammers
What are some of the various scams you have had to deal with?  When did you realize they were playing a game and only asking for money?  Did you ever let someone send you a package?  What ended up happening?
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Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, The Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Dating 911! Welcome To Dating 2019, A Scammers Delight. appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.
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