Report: 1 in 10 Online Dating Profiles Are Scams

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Those who are down on online dating are quick to cite fake profiles, scam artists, and confidence schemes as the number one reason they would never consider joining a dating site.

A special report in the October issue of Glamour delves into the issue, warning of a fraud epidemic sweeping online dating sites. Mark Brooks, editor of Online Personals Watch, even warns that, on some dating sites, as many as one in ten profiles is a scammer.

A typical online dating scam works like this:

  • A con artist - often located in an Internet café overseas - will take a photo from Facebook or another social networking site.
  • Using the photo, they will create a fake profile and start targeting love-seeking victims.
  • After initiating contact with a target, they move the conversation to a private instant messaging service.
  • As the courtship continues, the scammer will deepen the "connection" by sending letters and love poems.
  • Arrangements to meet are eventually made but, within hours of the planned arrival time, disaster will strike in the form of an expired visa, a sick relative, or another emergency.
  • The scammer will explain that, in light of the emergency, they need a few thousand dollars wired over so that they can finally meet their sweetheart.

Many scammers use photos of military personnel in order to boost their credibility. Recently, after discovering that his picture was used in multiple fake dating profiles, Army Master Sgt. C.J. Grisham created a blog for soldiers to report the fraudulent use of their photos. Major sites like Match and OkCupid have some security measures in place, but smaller sites lack a security system, leaving individuals to defend themselves.

Defend yourself against online dating scams - don't wait for your dating site to do it for you. How's here:

  1. Watch out for military photos. Of course some will be real, but proceed with caution since they are so commonly used by scammers.
  2. Keep the conversation on the site. It's safer than chatting on Skype or an external instant messaging system until you feel completely comfortable with the person.
  3. Use conversational tests. If the person is a local, engage them in a local-knowledge conversation to be sure they're actually who they say they are. If they're not local, ask why they're interested in a long-distance relationship. Make sure they have a reasonable answer.
  4. Beware of poor grammar and spelling, badly written sentences, and old-fashioned romantic language.
  5. Steer clear of get-rich-quick schemes - anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.

And never, ever send money to anyone on a dating site.