You think you are exchanging emails with a handsome, charming online bachelor—when in truth, he is a conniving scam-artist looking for his next victim.
The no. 1 sign of an online con-artist is a push for quick involvement. He comes on strong in the beginning. He is eager to win your attention and affection. He has tons of time for you with his frequent phone calls, emails and chats. He wants to speak with you the first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep. He will talk about falling in “love” quickly. He will tell you he has never felt like this about another woman. He has never felt so much so fast and he will say you are a “God send.”
Internet dating is the modern way to find love. Statistics claim 4 out 5 single men and women find true love using an internet dating service. However, the anonymity of online dating has provided cheaters and con-artists a new playground for dishonesty and scams. These scammers are experts at detecting the needy, lonely and naive woman. He sees her as someone he can easily deceive and manipulate. They will listen carefully to you, size you up and know just what to say to steal your heart. To reel you in they will often tell you of their dreams and of their past hurts. Many times they will tell you they once "had it all" but lost it, most times blaming an ex-wife or girlfriend so you will feel sorry for them. Or they have an unexpected illness, hospital visit or personal emergency setting you up for a loan they never intend to pay back.
My Houston girlfriend desperately wanted a man in her life. An online man, supposedly living in Canada, send her an email through the dating site. He quickly got her phone number so he could promote intimate conversations. They talked on the phone for five hours the first time they talked. He got her personal email address so he could receive and send more photos. He told her she was stunningly beautiful. He sent her good morning text messages and constant texts and emails throughout the day and night. He called her every evening and they talked for two hours. He was open and sharing about his life. They became Facebook friends, gaining him a motherload of personal information about Vivian. He told her he had found his “match,” she was the woman of his dreams and he was closing his online dating account.
On the fourth evening, talking on the phone, Mr. Canada told my girlfriend, “I saw your pictures on Facebook. You look like you have a size 5 ½ ring finger.” He told her he was flying to Houston in two months and the only thing he wanted to change about her was her last name. “I am going to put a ring on your finger,” he said. He told her he was going to build her a magnificent house in Canada with panoramic windows facing the mountains to inspire her painting career. “You can lease your house and bring your clothes because you won’t need anything else,” he said. And he sent her an image of a meadow with blooming wild flowers at the base of a snow-capped mountain range.
At first my girlfriend was smitten by Mr. Canada’s intense pursuit. But her gut clenched at his hasty, insinuated proposal. She knew that a sincere man does not fall in love and commit to that level in four days.
It’s easy to spot online scam artists if you know what to look for. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does he immediately call, email and text you throughout the day and night?
- Does he send you cards, gifts and trinkets from the get-go?
- Does he talk about love, intimacy and commitment early on?
- Are his answers to your questions evasive and sketchy?
- Does he ask questions about your financial status or does he reveal his quickly?
- Does he boast of financial assets, future wealth or possessions?
- Does he constantly have excuses for everything?
- Is he hard to reach by phone and do your phone calls always go to his voice mail?
- Is he taking too long to meet you in person?
- Has he said “I am relocating to an area near you”?
How to protect yourself:
Don’t be afraid to ask a long-distance man for proof of his identity. Check him out through public records, research websites and connections. Save all emails or chat logs, and pay very close attention to details. You may pick up on discrepancies of things that he has told you. Trust your gut instincts if you feel suspicious or uncomfortable about a man.
Take a note in your iPhone: If you feel it in your heart and you think it in your head—chances are you are right.