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In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over 855,555 ($955,855) through online dating sites. She got nothing. In 7566, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming industry was worth over $55 million, but it s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate. People are often ashamed to come forward and admit that they ve been duped. It s not a good feeling to have been taken advantage of, and a scheme that s so obvious in hindsight is even harder to admit to. Don t become one of these numbers! If you date online, take precautions to protect yourself. Here are six things to keep in mind to help you spot and avoid scammers on online dating sites.

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The AARP also says that seniors are a common target of these scams. Again, both men and women can and have fallen victim to online dating scammers, but women tend to be targeted more aggressively. Interestingly, the AARP says that men fall victim to these scams more often, but that women are more likely to report the scam. The profiles of online dating scammers can exhibit some clear signs that something is off you just need to know what to look for. Most scammers choose victims that are older than they are, for example, so if someone who is significantly younger than you says that they re interested, it could be cause for concern.

Of course, just because someone is younger doesn t mean that they re a scammer it s just something to keep in mind. Scammers also often list themselves as widowed (especially with a child), self-employed, or working overseas. Even if someone s profile looks legit, there are other signs to keep an eye out for, especially during the beginning of your communication. These methods give them better access to you and can help them gather additional information that they can use to con you. Don t fall for it:

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there s nothing wrong with staying in touch via the dating site. Scammers are good at being charming and saying all the right things and they start it fast. They have a lot of victims to get through, so they re going to try to move things along as quickly as possible. They ll hit you with the full force of their charm they ll say sweet things, compliment you a lot, and talk about how perfect you are for each other within the first couple weeks. Think about if you would find it strange for someone to be acting like this if you just met in real life.

If someone was expressing over-the-top love and passion within a couple weeks, you d be worried. Or what do you do for a living? If the person you re talking to is avoiding these basic questions, that should be a big red flag. Many scammers will be prepared to answer these and even more complicated questions, but if you can t get answers from a suitor, you should be suspicious. While the British scammer mentioned in the introduction to this article met his victims in person, most scammers will avoid face-to-face meetings at all costs.

Even if they say they live near you, they ll say they re out of town and won t be able to meet. They might even set up a time to meet and then say they were held up by something else. If they ask you for money, run. That s almost a sure sign that you re talking to a scammer. The most common reasons that they give for needing money are not being able to afford a passport, visa, other travel documents, or plane tickets (often to come see you) an emergency stay in the hospital that requires a huge sum of money getting robbed while traveling or not being able to access their money from abroad.

There s a huge variety of reasons that you could get. The point isn t that the reason for needing money is strange it s that they re asking you for money at all.

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