- Use your intuition. If something seems odd, or you get a funny feeling, or something just doesn't seem right, go with your instincts. Many Nigerian and Malaysian scammers use pictures of models but the smarter ones are now stealing pictures of “real people” to use. This is going to sound harsh, but you need to be realistic - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. We all like to be flattered and flirted with; however, when it happens, don’t let common sense go out of the window.
- Be alert.
Scammers prey on the emotionally vulnerable - kind-hearted, people who are looking for a genuine person to love. And don't go thinking it’s just women that are scammed; in fact, some research suggests that men over 50 are most at risk to internet scammers. The only reason we don’t read about it so often is that they're less willing to admit they've been duped; I hear plenty of horror stories from guys who come to join my dating agency RSVP having been scammed on the internet and they are often intelligent businessmen who didn’t follow rule number one above.
- Do some simple checking.
Look out for poorly-worded profiles with bad grammar or capital letters in strange places in the sentence. If the profile sounds a little too well written, then try copying a phrase into Google to see how many times it appears in the results. Internet scammers tend to use the same profile on many sites. If the person you are chatting to on-line lives or works abroad, be alert that the chance of them being a scammer is much greater – use the internet to research who they say they work for and where they have offices overseas.
- Don't send money to someone you haven't met.
The alarm bells should start ringing as soon as you are asked to send some money. Think about it: would you ask someone you have only just met for money? It isn’t just the Nigerian and Malaysian scammers that use this technique. There are plenty of dishonest people here who use dating sites to find vulnerable, kind hearted people who want to help others.
Learn more about internet dating scams on our dating tips and advice website.
You can of course avoid a lot of heartache and worry by choosing a reputable introduction agency where they meet all their clients before they join. No scammer is going to risk that kind of exposure - and they are usually in a faraway land anyway!
But, whichever way you date, be careful out there.