Love Is in the Air… But Something Smells Fishy

Dear Rich Lifer,

Online dating has been accused of fueling hook-up culture, killing romance and even feeding a “grass is always greener” mentality among daters.

But it turns out online dating might not be so bad after all.

According to a 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online daters who marry are less likely to break up and are associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction rates than those of couples who met offline.

Researchers believe a larger dating pool is better because it allows daters to be more selective when searching for partners.

In the past, the study said, we largely relied on real-life social networks to meet our mates — friends of friends, colleagues, and neighbors — meaning we largely dated people like ourselves.

Now, as we open our dating pool to strangers, the pool of potential mates has become more diverse, and the online dating world is benefitting.

But not everyone is singing this same tune…

In 2018, people reported losing $143 million to romance scams — a higher total than for any other type of scam reported to the FTC.

The median reported loss was $2,600, and, for people over 70, it was $10,000!

Although online dating can be a great way to meet your next partner, it’s also the number one place you’re likely to get scammed.

The Lies Scammers Tell

According to the FTC, scammers stick to fairly predictable scripts: first, they build up trust with their victims by talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money.

They might tell you a sob story about how their family died in an accident, or they have a sick relative at home. Don’t be fooled.

Here are 6 signs you’re caught up in a romance scam:

  1. They Offer to Come Visit But… $$$

A lot of scammers will tell you they’re working on an oil rig or as a doctor for an international organization or are in the military.

These should all be red flags, especially if they start asking for money to come visit you.

Another version of this story is that they are on their way to meet you, either at an airport or bus station, and their credit card is mysteriously declined.

Don’t fall for this! It’s just a ploy to pressure you into sending them money on the spot to help them out of a bind.

  1. Let’s Take This Conversation Offline

Online dating sites can monitor and kick off members who exhibit problematic behavior or are perpetrating scams. For this reason alone, con artists want to move the conversation as quickly as possible offline.

If you hear the excuse, “My membership on this site is almost up. How about if we text or communicate through our personal phone/email?” Be wary.

Moving off-site before launching a scam reduces the chance that you’ll report the crook. And that’s good news for the crook, who wants to troll the site again for future victims.

Do yourself and others a favor and always report any suspicious activity.

  1. A 25-Year-Old Supermodel Is Telling You She’s in Love

If you’re a 50- or 60-something year-old man and a 25-year-old girl is saying she’s in love with you, something might be amiss.

As soon as you start thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I must be better looking than I thought!’ Stop yourself. Something is probably off.

Scammers look for vulnerable people, men and women in their 50s and 60s who are divorced or widowed and may feel rejected or past their prime.

They’re also likely to target people with weight problems and those recovering from illnesses.

The reason being these issues might make you a bit more anxious about your ability to find love and maybe more receptive to the con. The crook wants you to suspend good sense and become enamored with someone you’ve known online for just a few weeks.

  1. Flashy Displays of Wealth

Another way scammers try to trick you is by showing how rich they are: fancy cars, mansions, pictures in romantic foreign settings.

Of course, real people sometimes have nice things and go to beautiful places, but these visual cues are usually a means to getting your guard down before asking you for cash.

By creating an illusion of wealth, con artists might be able to convince you that you’re simply “loaning” them money because for some weird reason they’re locked out of their own riches.

How do scammers get photos in these exotic places and nice toys? They don’t. They find other people’s photos online and steal them.

If you’re suspicious about someone’s profile, run a reverse image lookup on Google. Use Google’s “search by image” feature and if the same picture shows up elsewhere with a different name attached to it, that’s a sign the photos may be stolen.

  1. Bad Grammar

Juliette doesn’t have to write like Shakespeare, but she has to be able to cobble together a basic sentence.

If the person you’re chatting with uses strange word choices or has poor grammar, this could be a sign of a foreign scammer.

Ask lots of questions. Where are you from? Where were you educated? If the person’s profile shows they have a college degree, but they can’t string together a sentence, you have reason to be suspicious.

  1. They Always Seem to Flake

It’s extremely rare for a scammer to meet you in person.

A lot of scammers operate out of foreign countries, despite profiles saying they live nearby. Their photos are typically of someone else, which would be hard to explain in person.

So if you’re trying to arrange an in-person meeting and they always seem to have an excuse for why they can’t meet up, that’s a red flag.

Con artists will do and say anything to get what they want from you. They’ll make up stories and try to pressure you into sending money to bail them out of emergencies.

Don’t fall for any of these tricks!

The bottom line is: Never send money or gifts (including christmas gifts) to someone you haven’t met in person.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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Nilus Mattive

Nilus is the editor for the daily e-letter The Rich Life Roadmap and a Paradigm Press analyst.

Nilus began his professional career at Jono Steinberg’s Individual Investor Group, where he published his original research through a regular investment column. Later, he worked for a private equity business and spent five years editing Standard and Poor’s...

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