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This week I had the pleasure of getting out of my office and away from the writing desk to dispense my wisdom on television.

Denver 9News reporter Melissa Blasius contacted me to help her develop a story about online dating scams. You’d be surprised just how common online dating scams are.

So I thought I’d devote a post to talking about signs that you’re being scammed or gamed.

Online dating scammers will go after anyone, male or female.

However, they tend to target people over 40, who didn’t grow up in the Information Age and aren’t as online savvy.

They also target people who are divorced, widowed, or single parents…

people who may be lonely and vulnerable to the affections of an attractive stranger.

Warning Signs of an Online Dating Scam The overseas connection.

Often, scammers live overseas and will either admit to living there or will say they’re American but “temporarily” there for business or other reasons.

Long distance relationships are hard enough when someone lives in the next state over… If so, you probably have a series of messages from random men or women telling you that you’re attractive and that they’re looking to meet a nice man or woman.

developing a romance with someone 10 time zones away is pretty unrealistic. They may also appeal to your ego: if you’re a guy, the picture will be a young, attractive woman who makes it clear she’s attracted to you and wants to meet you. military men looking for laptops or other stuff will attempt to get money out of people. On Facebook, I accept friend requests from strangers because of the nature of my business; but every now and again I get a request from a guy who has no friends and few to no posts.

Also, some scammers will claim they’re in the military and deployed overseas. The purpose of online dating isn’t to develop an online “pen pal” – it’s to MEET PEOPLE. If you’re a woman, the picture will be a nice looking guy who tells you that you’re beautiful and that he’s dying to meet you. Because so many scammers are from other countries (Nigeria is a common one), their grasp of our language is weak. Often, scammers will have a myriad of excuses for why they can’t come see you or meet in person (another red flag), and will often ask for money to fly them out to visit you, to reinstate their Visa to come to the US, or to pay someone to remove the giant boulder that’s holding them back from being with the person they love so dearly. He always has an Anglo name and a nice photo where he’s by himself, in a uniform, or with a child. The photos are usually fake and stolen from someone else on Facebook. She Google searched his photo and, sure enough, it belonged to some other guy on Facebook, a guy whose Middle Eastern name matched his Mediterranean look.

Thus, while some chatting over email is important to establish trust, rapport, and interest, extensive emailing back and forth isn’t good because it creates a false sense of intimacy with someone you’ve never met in person. The pics are usually fake, stolen off the internet (see Resources below). Online scammers will start talking in romantic or sexual ways very quickly, even dropping the L word. Regular people don’t do this; how do you have strong feelings for someone you’ve never met? They will misspell and misuse words in a way that makes it clear they don’t speak our language. And, last but never least, the telltale sign of a scammer is when they ask for money. Melissa, the reporter who interviewed me, purposely developed a month-long online relationship from a guy who found her on Facebook. And sure enough, he eventually asked her for money. It’s better to feel a little foolish now than feel much more foolish later.

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