These days, it’s pretty hard to meet a new partner if you don’t dip your toe into online dating. If you’re single, you know that this statement is true. The good old days of getting picked up in a bar seem to have gone the way of dial-up internet. It’s sad that we’ve lost this human connection, but unless your network of friends and family knows lots of single guys and is willing to take the leap to set up mutual singletons, downloading apps and swipe, swipe, swiping away seems to be the way to go.

Here’s the rub: just like anything online, there are good eggs and bad. We’ve all heard the stories of single women (and men) fleeced of their life savings by savvy scammers. Promises of lifelong happiness sent by text by a handsome stranger who seems to adore us are tempting to believe. We all want a companion who worships the ground we walk on, after all, and our fragile, sometimes lonely egos are eager to be fed by sweet words of love. But when it’s anonymous, it’s hard to know if it’s a real man who wants to get to know you or a Nigerian prince who’s merely in it for the iTunes cards or electronic money transfers.

Save attending a multitude of singles events or hiring a matchmaker, using online dating to find a potential match is a necessary evil as I’ve found out. So use at your own risk, be smart, and learn from my mistakes.

And most of all, as soon as he asks for money, get the hell out of there. 

6 No-Fail Ways to Spot an Online Dating Scammer

Is He Too Good to Be True?

Red Alert: 6 Ways to Spot an Online Dating ScammerIs that guy way too good-looking for anyone’s good? Do his photos look overly professional or even familiar? It’s easy to find out if those are actually his pictures with Google’s reverse image search tool. Just take a screen shot of one of his photos and upload it to the tool. In seconds you’ll know if that’s really him. I’ve caught at least 3 fakers this way. And trust me, I called them out on it (and got unmatched before I could report them.)

Is Their Language a Little Off?

Your potential says he’s highly educated. He’s got post-graduate degrees but his grammar sucks or he doesn’t sound as smart as his pedigree would suggest. There’s a difference between a lazy texter who can’t be bothered to capitalize ‘i’ and someone who is not actually from the next town over. If he says English is his first language but he’s making major ESL errors then he’s probably safely behind a computer in another country. Remember: this is technology and a scammer who is good at his job can bounce his location off anywhere he chooses.

The Conversation is All About You.

It might seem refreshing to meet a man who wants to know EVERYTHING about you. Until he won’t answer any questions about himself. He wants to know where you live, what you do for work, your likes, dislikes, and interests, yet when you flip it back to him he skillfully deflects. Instead he tells you what you want to hear, such as what a great father he is if you’ve indicated family is important to you, or what a great cook he is if you said you really like dining in. What he’s really doing is fishing for information that he can later flatter you with. His sole goal is to give you the warm and fuzzies so he can make you feel emotionally connected to him enough to give him what he wants. Hello red flag.

He Says Weird Things.

Red Alert: 6 Ways to Spot an Online Dating ScammerThis one is hard to put a finger on, so activate your spidey-sense and let it fly. Even the most skilful scammer will slip up. Maybe he brags about his own financial situation, makes odd comments (off-colour doesn’t count. Nobody’s judging you if you like dirty talk), is overly familiar off the bat, or gushes about your looks or accomplishments. He might mention God or faith a lot, or if he’s posing as a widower that he’s looking for a woman to mother his children and bring love and family back into their lives. If you don’t feel comfortable with how the conversation is going, or it seems too good to be true, proceed with caution. He might be an awkward individual or he might want your retirement funds.

He’s Both Available and Unavailable.

Does he travel a lot for business yet seems to have time to constantly text you? Is he unwilling to talk on the phone? Can he easily explain when his distance keeps changing in the app? Does he say he really wants to meet you but can’t seem to set a time even though it looks like he lives 10 km away? Trust me, even if you make a drink date he’s going to cancel (his kid is sick, he has to work, he got in a car accident…) He’s never showing up, but as soon as he’s got your trust he’s going to dangle that meet in exchange for you solving his work emergency with a gift card. Personally, if a potential match won’t make plans with me within a few days, I cut the conversation short. Ain’t nobody got time for more pen pals.

He Fits the Profile.

From what I’ve researched, the most likely profiles are widowers or men with one child with sole custody. There’s hardly ever an ex in the picture. They may be engineers, work in oil and gas or tech, or be physicians who travel with Doctors without Borders. He doesn’t want hook-ups, but rather wants a life partner he can love forever, and somehow from a few texts he knows you’re that woman. He has a way with flattery and is always there when you need him (real men don’t always answer your texts…), particularly for late-night chats. In short, he’s created the profile of your perfect partner—except for the fact that he doesn’t exist.

What’s your experience? Can you share any other red flags that we’ve missed?


About the author

Mara Shapiro

Mara Shapiro is Co-Editor, Community of BrazenWoman. She is proof that it's never too late to reinvent yourself, and also that you cannot have too many pairs of shoes and lipglosses. A Social Media addict, Community Manager, and insatiable lover of movie popcorn, Mara is always on the hunt for the next best thing. You'll often find her laughing and dancing, phone in one hand, and a glass of red in the other. The only time she's not talking is when she's sleeping.

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