If you watch any amount of television, you simply can’t get through a program without a commercial for one of many different dating websites. While it started out with a few sites, it now covers a wide variety of categories from singles to “senior singles” to those who are looking for marriage.
It’s not unheard of for a dating site to lead to a marriage proposal, which is quite different than visiting a site geared specifically to finding a wife (or husband!) online. But as the old expression states, “buyer beware,” because what you see isn’t always what you may get when it comes to meeting that “special” someone online.
What to Watch Out For
The problem with online marriage and dating sites is that you really don’t know whom you’re meeting. Sure, there’s a photo and a description of the “mail order bride,” but is the photo real or accurate? Is that person really who she says she is? Or, is it simply the clever creation of a website marketer who is only after your money – and not eternal marital bliss.
So what are the typical “lines” you will hear if you’re corresponding with a possible online scammer? The biggest ones are that they’re “currently working or traveling outside of the country.” You’ll either hear that they’ve taken a job with an international organization, usually in the healthcare field, like a physician working for World Health.
Other typical lines are that they’ve recently signed up for “another tour with the military overseas.” Other lines are that they’re in the middle of the ocean working on an oil rig, or that they work for a cruise line and won’t be back in port for months. Unfortunately, they’re all lines.
Why are they doing this? Sorry, but it’s not for love or romance or marriage. It’s for money – your money. These scammers have the audacity to ask you for money to “cover the cost of a plane ticket to come for a visit,” or they recently had a medical emergency that requires surgery, and they need money to cover the cost of care.
Other times they’ll pull on your heartstrings and ask for money to cover the cost of a visa to come and visit you or some other travel document. They’ll either ask you to wire money or tell you they don’t want money – they just want you to reload one of their debit cards like MoneyPak or even Amazon or Google Play gift cards. Don’t believe a single word of it! Once you wire the money or load one of their cards, you’ll never hear from them again.
The Phony Romance
Often, the person that you’re communicating with isn’t who you think she is. That’s because the scammers create a phony profile. They steal or purchase photos of successful, good-looking women (and men) and create an online profile that would make any man want to fall in love. In fact, the woman you think you’re falling in love with is often a man posing as a woman.
How do you spot a fake profile? Look for inconsistencies in their bio or work history. Look for height and weight that doesn’t match their photo, or watch out for those who don’t even post it at all. And always be leery of those who simply can’t meet in person due to work-related issues.
If you’ve met someone on a dating or bridal site, and they ask you to start communicating via their personal email or Instant Messaging, they’re usually scammers. If you have never met someone in person, never, ever send them money for any reason whatsoever!
If you’ve met someone on a dating or bridal site and they ask to correspond directly, verify their email address or phone number! Use an online tool like Nuwber to find out who you’re really corresponding with. You’ll get accurate information on who the person is and where they live. Once you get past their flowery romantic prose, you’ll find out you may be dealing with a crook.
How can you tell if you’re dealing with a scammer? Despite the correspondence filled with loving words, they want access to your money. If they’ve posted an image, use a reverse image search service like Google or TinEyes.
Other times, those romance scammers might send you a laptop computer or smartphone and ask you to forward them to another place. Beware – it’s just a ruse to cover their illegal activities. In other scams, they may send you money and ask you to send it somewhere else – like a relative who is ill, but don’t do it! It’s just another form of money laundering and it’s totally illegal.
A background check can reveal whether or not your romantic partner is hiding something from you. But when it comes to romance and marriage, an ounce of prevention can be worth a lot more than a pound of cure! Most people in a relationship talk about their past loves and marriages, but if you suspect something is amiss, you can verify the information you’re getting is valid.
Divorce documents and criminal history are all public records, and you can get this information online or from a visit to a courthouse. Another good background check to perform is a look at their credit history. There are hundreds of websites that offer all of this information for a fee. If you’re concerned at all, it would be money well spent.
There are other ways to do background checks on your own. Start with Google by entering the full name and any other information they’ve provided. Just be aware that it’s very easy to create fake profiles online. Another source is searching for social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others.
If you meet your prospective bride online, take some common-sense precautions to ensure that the person you think you’re in love with is really the person they say they are! If you’re told that they are working overseas or have some other excuse for not being able to meet you in person, consider that a red flag. If they ask for money – for any reason – never send it, and end the relationship. If they ask you to leave the dating or bridal site and correspond directly, do an email or phone number search with sites like Nuwber to find out who you’re really corresponding with. And if you’re asked to get married, a background check into their credit history, criminal history and past relationships will reveal the truth about the person you’re willing to spend the rest of your life with!