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Romance Dating Scams

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Heart in bear trap, Romance Dating Scams

Dating Services Online

We care about our readers and want the best for you. We have provided for you some of our recommendations to keep online dating fun, easy, meaningful, and, most of all, safe. Below are some safety tips for online dating and avoiding romance scams.

Online Dating Safety Tips

  • Do your research on them.

  • Use a Google voice number instead of your number.

  • Video chat before your first date.

  • Drive separately or take public transportation.

  • Meet them in a public place.

  • Tell someone about this person, their information, and when and where you will be meeting them. Check-in with them on the date in the restroom and afterward to let them know you are safe.

  • Don't give too much personal information initially. For example, you can let them know what you do but do not mention who your employer is.

  • Carry Pepper Spray and don't get the cheap kind that will fail you when you most need it. We recommend police-grade pepper spray by Fox Labs.

  • Stay sober and keep an eye out for date rape drugs being put in your drink. Even during a day date.

Be a Skeptic

Don't believe everything you read most definitely applies. People lie online just as they do in real life. Areas to be particularly cautious about marital status and physical appearance. Look at your own past experiences in meeting people. Have you generally had good judgment about people? If so, then you can rely on it here too. If not, proceed with caution.

Use Tools Wisely

Some online personals sites allow you to send and receive email without using your real address. Take advantage of this option if you can. Then use email to get a sense of a person before you further the relationship. "Begin to (anonymously) email back and forth, and learn about the context this person operates in," suggests Wolf. "Where did he grow up? Where does she work? Who are his friends and family? How is she connected to the community in which she lives?" Learning about a person's connections with others is an important way to find out who they really are.

Talk To Them

The phone reveals a lot about a person's social skills and their ability to communicate spontaneously. Now that you're voice-to-voice, if not yet face-to-face, allow yourself to get a good feeling for what someone is like before deciding you'd like to meet. Use a Google voice number and video conference them through free online services such as Skype.

Resist the Hard Sell

If you are getting pressured to get together, that's probably a good sign that this is a person you want to steer clear of. Also, continue to keep your antennae up. If, as you are getting to know each other, anything seems off, bow out gracefully.

Separate Fantasy From Reality

If emails, texts, or DMs have a downside, it allows you to build up a false sense of intimacy with someone. "A person who writes great text or email is not necessarily a great person," points out Laura Banks, author of the book "Love Online." No matter how wonderful your correspondence may seem, try to keep some emotional distance. Don't allow your hopes about this person to obscure what you feel.

Use Common Sense

When it is time to meet in the real world, use these hard and fast rules: Don't give out your home or office address; meet in a busy public place during daylight hours; use your transportation to and from the date; tell a friend where and when you are going; and check-in when you get back. There'll be plenty of time for moonlight walks later on!

Romance Scams

If you are looking for love online, you must be careful. Many people are becoming the victims of "Romance Scams" & "Dating Scams." The article below outlines some of those scams and tips on what to do and what not to do if someone is attempting to scam you.

What are Romance Scams or Dating Scams?

During a romance or dating scam, people are often duped into believing that they speak with a person who is a 'creation' of a scam artist. The scam artist eventually woos the unknowing victim to gain access to their money or bank account or by getting them to commit fraud on their behalf unknowingly.

Most of these dating & romance scams seem to originate from and are prevalent in West Africa (especially Nigeria), Russia, Eastern Europe, Thailand, and the Philippines. Remember that when someone claims to be contacting you from a location, it does not mean they are there. Also, some makeup elaborate stories claiming to be helping people in impoverished areas of the world to make themselves appear to be more of a humanitarian.

Scam Artist Tricks

Appealing Photos For The Perfect Romance Scam (Catfish)

These photos are usually models or taken from sites and are often not the person you communicate with during online interactions.

Dream Profiles For The An Alluring Dating Scam

The scam artist knows what most people are looking for, and they will create a seemingly perfect person. Emotionally open, caring, and often seeking a monogamous relationship and marriage for women and sex for men.

Flattering Correspondence To Suck You Into A Romance Scam

Often kept on file, texts, DMs, emails and letters are often copied from one victim to another while offering flattering messages full of 'unconditional love.' Using song lyrics and poetry, the scam artists create the illusion of a romantic, long-distance lover.

Love & Lust For Irresistible Dating Scams

Often scammers will target men with lusty pictures and dialog (meanwhile, many of the scammers are men themselves) and target women with profiles of a widower looking for love once again.

Marriage Proposals For The Final Grooming Of A Romance Scam

Often women are the scam of these; however, it does occur to men, especially in mail order bride cons. The scam artist knows that once you have accepted a marriage proposal, you will be more ready to part with your money to help them out in some way.

No Dating Site is Immune From Romance Scams

It does not matter if the dating site is an 'exclusive' one that tries to keep out 'undesirables' by charging high fees because the scammers will pay for membership using a stolen credit card.

Romance Scam Example

A romance scammer may send a forged or stolen check worth $4,800 and ask the victim to retain $800 for themselves and forward the remaining $4,000 to them via Western Union or a Moneygram. (Scammers like money wiring services because it is impossible to trace the recipients of the money).

The romance scammer reassures the victim by telling them to keep a share of the money for themselves. This reinforces the feelings of love and trust within the victim and incriminates the victim, reducing any reporting to the authorities. In the law's eyes, the victim becomes an accomplice by keeping a portion of the stolen money.

Who is at Risk from Romance Scams?

We are all targets. The counties where the romance scam artists focus their efforts tend to be in the US and UK; however, no one is immune. Anyone looking for love on the Internet is at risk because scammers are known to target every dating site, including niche sites like religious, gay, professional, etc.

Common Romance Scams

They Are In An Accident & Need Your Assistance

They have someone call to say that they have been in an accident or are ill and unconscious. You are listed as their next of kin, and you need to pay for their urgent medical treatment. Without this medical attention, you are told they will die.

They Were Robbed Or Need To Borrow Money For Tax Reasons

The scammer may be bold enough to directly ask for the money and indicate that they were robbed and need a small loan to get them through this tough time. They may also suggest that they need a loan to avoid foreign taxes as they travel through certain countries. Remember that money laundering is a criminal offense: never agree to transfer money for someone else.

Unpaid Hotel Bill

The scammer may claim that they are trying to see you but do not have enough money to pay their hotel bill, and the hotel is holding their passport until they pay it.

Ship Merchandise To Them

Scammers will make up an excuse for why they need you to ship merchandise to them. The reality is that they have purchased the merchandise with a stolen credit card, and you are shipping stolen goods or possibly partaking in money laundering.

Mail Order Bride

A beautiful woman wants to meet to see if the male victim is physically compatible with them. The promise of sex it exciting enough that the victim does not have any problem shelling out the money for her passport or other travel expenses.

Background Checks

You can do a background check, but remember some of the romance scams use real people as decoys. Meaning they go to a dating site, steal someone's name and profile, and use their information.

If someone you have never met in person is proclaiming their love for you and asking you to send them gifts or money, you should ask yourself: could this person be a scammer? Use common sense and never give money to someone you do not know.

What to Do if You Have Been Scammed

What Not To Do

  • Do not delete or throw away the scammer's letters, pictures, or records of your money transfers. You may need these for evidence later.

  • Do not provide the scammers with links to blacklists where their pictures may already be posted. This will only help them to change their information and make them more challenging to catch.

  • Please do not send the scammers any more money, no matter what they say.

What To Do

  • Call the bank, Western Union (1-800-325-6000), MoneyGram (1-800-666-3947), or however you sent money and find a way to speak to a representative. Provide the representative with all the information you can. Make sure to explain that you were not aware that the receiver was a scam artist and ask the representative to provide you information on the city name and the bank address where the receiver picked up the transfer. Ask the representative what kind of steps you can take to place a warning on the receiver's name, so the next time someone tries to send money to this person, they would be warned.

  • Contact your Embassy in the scammer's country (ex., if the scammer if from Russia, contact your Embassy in Moscow) and ask them if a visa was issued for a lady by such name. Confirm that there was no visa issued.

  • If you have her flight itinerary, contact the air carrier listed in the itinerary and confirm that a passenger by that name did not book a ticket, or that a ticket was purchased but later canceled. Request this information in writing.

  • Post information about the scammer on as many blacklists and anti-scam forums as you can.

  • If you have her flight itinerary, contact the air carrier listed in the itinerary and confirm that a passenger by that name did not book a ticket, or that a ticket was purchased but later canceled. Request this information in writing.

  • Report the incident to any of the appropriate authorities. Your bank or credit card company. The Federal Trade Commission. Report the circumstances to the FTC: National Resource for Identity Theft

  • Find someone to talk to about what happened. Don't keep your experience a secret just because you want to avoid being embarrassed. It always helps to find someone whom you trust to confide in.

  • Find support from people who have been through the same experience, join them, and participate in their activities and help others.


Also see our Sexual Harassment & Stalking as well as Sexual Assault & Rape Resources and Date Rape Drugs & Prevention Guide

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