Unfortunately, online scams are previlant as scammers prowl the Internet, and they target online dating users.

These online scammers and catphishers I refer to are people who invent fake sympathetic stories they then use to steal information and scam money out of the overly trusting and the nice.
The World Wide Web is not perfect.
Online scammers prey on the gullible and the lonely — those who are too trusting of strangers to realize that some Internet users lie about their true identity and intentions.

Being gullible doesn’t make someone a bad person, but it may make them vulnerable to online scams. I think it’s unfair, so I’ve written a few pointers that will help people spot them. Hopefully the following information will prevent you or someone you know from being fooled by an online scammer.

1 Honesty Is The Best Falsity

Most people are fairly honest and genuinely good natured. Those of us who are of the honest variety need not advertise our honesty because it’s one of those actions speak louder than words kind of character traits. Honesty is proven over the course of a relationship, not claimed as truth at the beginning.

Online scammers don’t prove their ability to be honest, but they sure love to tell you how honest they are. Their profiles are full of words like “honesty” and “trustworthy”. They go out of their way to paint themselves as an “honest person.” They are overcompensating; trying to fool the vulnerable into a false sense of security. Don’t fall for the online scammer’s overtly desperate attempts to claim honesty as a character trait. Such a claim is commonly a clear sign that the person you’re conversing with over the Internet is an online scammer.

2 Online Scammers Are Sad Cases Who Beg For Sympathy

Sadly, online scammers take advantage of nice people. They invent a character that is down on its luck. The character is made up and designed to trick you. Their intentions are to steal money from you.

These sympathy chasing cheats practice a simple formula. They will lull you into a false sense of security by chatting you up for a bit. Then, once they think they’ve made a connection with you, they’ll sell you some sob story that ends with them asking you to wire money and save them from “emergency doctor bills,” “a sick family member,” or “stranded in a foreign country,” and it will all be a big dose of dishonesty.

If you hear any of these money grubbing sob stories about doctor bills, sick family members or money troubles overseas, from someone you personally don’t know or have never met, you’re being scammed. Think about it. You’re honest. Would you ask a stranger for money?? Have you ever asked a stranger on the Internet to help you out of financial jam? No, you haven’t. You haven’t because doing so would represent everything you are against as an honest, hard-working person. Don’t be fooled by their seeking sob story.

3 Be Wary Of Fake Widowers

Don’t be wary of real widowers in real life — people you know personally who have recently lost their spouse. Be supportive of real widowers whom you are friends or family with.

DO, however, be wary of online profiles playing up the widower status. Much like the sympathy angle, Fake Widowers are looking for sympathy, and money, from nice people. Except, instead of solely inventing a sympathetic scenario, the Fake Widower has also created a whole sympathy-seeking character.

The Fake Widower is an online scammer who will try and squeeze you for money by making you feel sorry for him or her. Meanwhile, their profile picture is fake, the story’s fake, and she may be a he, or vis versa.

4 The God-Fearing Online Scammer

A lot of online scammers mask themselves with the god fearing persona. Their profiles describe them as very religious types who want nothing more than to meet the right woman, get married and establish a beautiful family. They say things that play into a woman’s fear of not being married at a certain age. But before you ever meet the God-Fearing online scammer in person, he will ask you to wire transfer some money his way.

Here’s a story about a friend of mine who met a god-fearing man online that turned out to be nothing more than an online scammer:

A friend of mine, let’s call her “Jody”, once met a guy online. He posted two cute photos of himself (not actually him) and his profile said all the right things. He told Jody he was away on a business trip but he’d be back in a week, and he was really excited to meet her in person. They spent the next few days exchanging emails. 

Jody’s new friend described himself as God Fearing. As their back-and-forth email conversation progressed, the guy started laying it on thick, telling her how much she meant to him and how he couldn’t wait to start a life with her when he returned from his business trip — you know, over-the-top stuff for a guy to say to a woman he’s never met in person. 

Jody and I were hanging out a few days later and she told me about the guy she met online. She wasn’t thinking scammer, but something about him rubbed her the wrong way. Thanks to my experience running Single in the City dot ca, I quickly realized that my friend Jody was in direct conversation with an online scammer. And I had recently watched a Dr Phil episode about a prolific online scammer from Nigeria who had scammed more than $150,000 off some of his women victims. I warned Jody that she was being set up; and that her new online friend would be asking her for money very soon.

The next day she texted me saying: 

“Laura! Call me ASAP! You’ll never believe this. He just sent me an email saying he needs $700!” 

I told her to mess with him and tell the guy that she’s broke, so she did. That was enough to get him to stop contacting her altogether. That’s how you get a scammer off your back! 

5 The Sappy Guy Online Scammers

Some online scams are easily identified by their extreme sappiness. These guys — or whomever they are (someone pretending to be an actual guy) — are unrealistically sappy in their profile and their messaging. They talk in a way that real people do not talk. They converse as though they’re reading a script from an awful ’80’s romantic movie, and for all I know, they probably are.

The Sappy Guy’s MO is the same as the other various forms of scammers: He’ll friend you up and then ask you to send him money. Don’t.

Online scams are orchistrated by criminals who hide behind a computer screen. Be careful to not let your loneliness make you vulnerable or gullible. Online scammers prey on the lonely, desperate, gullible, etc.

It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes. Humans crave companionship. Just be cautious, too. Try not to let your loneliness affect your thinking. The danger in being lonely is: some who suffer from loneliness temporarily lose their wits and become an online scammer’s victim because they may feel as though any attention received is good attention.

Look for the signs; trust your instincts before you feel compelled to betray them for possible love from a stranger you’ve never before met in person who is asking you to send him/her a money transfer.

If you suspect someone is an online scammer you should report their profile to the powers that be at whichever dating website service you currently use.

Online scammers are real, but thankfully they represent a small minority of the online dating community. Most people you’ll meet online will be the same as you: honest, with good intentions, looking to form relationships without begging for sympathy and asking for money.

Below are examples of online scammers’ profiles I’ve personally blocked at Single in the City. *Notice the terrible spam-like grammar, frequent typos, and overly sappy generic connotation.

– I am a God fearing,Caring and Honest  Man…I like cooking,swimming and staying indoor cooking…My nature is to treat my woman with respect,also all with all the Love she deserves…I am only a easy going and simple MAN.

– I want a woman that would be very honest,faithful and easy going…A woman that knows how to treat a Man right….Be best friends,lovers and Soul mates

– I am looking for my life partner, best friend and lover. A true man that is very affectionate, passionate, romantic, faithful and caring. he should care more about who he is, rather than what he has. he should be kind and sensitive to my needs and have a love of family. Someone I can laugh, love, cry and share my thoughts and dreams with. A confident man, but not self absorbed. I am looking for a loyal, faithful, spiritual, sensitive and positive person. he needs to be able to be mentally intimate as well as physically intimate with me. and a great sense of humor. Someone who enjoy life he must have a love of music ys spending time with me and sharing his inner most thoughts and passions.

– I am looking for a man that likes to fish, go out on occassion to fun places and also loves to cuddle up a home as well. he must also have a love of nature, enjoy the simple pleasures in life and be content as well. he needs to be, for the most part, a positive man and confident with who he is. Someone who’s eyes can meet mine in the good and bad times. he should be able to leave his “baggage” from past relationships behind him and make a fresh start with me. To greet me everyday with a smile and kiss and truly care how I am. Someone that can “show” me he loves me and not just tell me. A man that would treat me with respect and be honored and excited to share his life and love with me

If you’ve been a victim of an online scam or know someone who has, please do tell us your story in the comment section below. Sharing your experience may save someone else from being scammed.

Learn more about navigating the complicated online dating world by grabbing a copy of my Relationship & Dating Advice Book, “Single in the City: From Hookups & Heartbreaks To Love & Lifemates, Tales & Tips To Attract Your Perfect Match”