Life after divorce can be a tumultuous time in one’s life, filled with a roller coaster of emotions. The stress of going through divorce can be challenging enough that it’s hard to think about dating again.
However, once ready to get your feet wet and jump into the dating pool, a new set of challenges arise that we recommend recent divorcees to watch out for. You re-enter the single scene finally ready to date, only realizing you must now navigate both meeting individuals in person and the social media aspect to online dating. Both of these territories come with a slew of dating scammers trying to turn your heart into their cash.
Who Are These Scammers? How Do They Operate?
First and foremost, romance scammers often have multiple scams going on with multiple victims. When finding their victims online, the fraudster will pose as both men and women to attempt to maximize their gains from each victim. While the vast majority of online scammers work outside of the United States, numbers have shown that they are growing in numerous countries.
Dating scammers in person are another segment for recent divorcees to watch out for. These are individuals who prey upon the brokenhearted or newly single, typically by lying about their income, age, what they are looking for, and marital status. Let’s discuss these types of scams so our newly singled divorcees understand what to watch out for when looking for true love.
Dating Scammers to Watch Out For Online
First and foremost, dating scammers love to target dating sites. Typically, dating scammers will prey on females over the age of 40 who are either divorced, elderly, disabled, or widowed. These scams attempt to prey on who the scammer believes is looking for love and in a distressed state of mind. The current top scams being conducted against recently divorced females are:
The Sweetheart Scam
Also known as the “Scarlet Widow” or the “Long Distance Lover,” this scam begins with an individual creating multiple fake accounts to bait a lonely individual online into a relationship. They use mainstream dating profile sites ranging from social media sites to specific dating sites.
When using social media sites, they bait victims that belong with sites for divorcees, in rural areas, or those with disabilities. The scammer moves fast, creating a “romantic relationship” by acting actively interested. They typically use fake stock photos and will always have an excuse as to why they are unable to currently speak on the phone or video chat. Once a trust is established, dating scammers typically come up with a reason they need funding. This could be to return home to the United States, they require a medical emergency surgery, bills, and so forth.
Sadly, if the victim provides any financial help, this is just the beginning. The scammer will continue to ask for money until they are no longer profitable towards them. At this point, the scammer disappears and goes on to the next victim with the same false sob story. Although the sweetheart scam typically takes place on both dating sites and social media, they also target smaller sites targeted towards individuals with disabilities, specific religious faiths, or the recently divorced.
The Military Man
Although many of us like a man in uniform, this is another one of those scams that are “too good to be true.” The military man pretends he is overseas on a mission. He will often use the real name of an individual who is actually in the army. He will build a false identity off this. He’ll then ask you for gift cards and funds to help him while he is on active duty. He will likely never chat on the phone with you or video chat. If he does speak to you on the phone, beware of any accents or uncommon English errors a native English speaker would not say.
The Medical Bills/Sick Patient
Similar to the sweetheart scam, this dating scammer will first commit to their victim that they are committed to only them and love them. They will then spring upon the victim the fact they have some underlying illness. It might be cancer or a serious accident, for example. They they share that they need help with medical bills. This type of scam will request you to help assist with medical bills or travel bills to come visit you. This scam is frightening, because oftentimes, they will have another scammer call pretending to be the individual’s doctor requesting payment. Avoid this at all cost and cut your losses before they dive into your pockets.
The Overseas Scammer
Most of these scams occur overseas. The scammers will admit they are currently overseas on a mission, asking for cash to fund a trip back home or help with their family life. This is likely a lie. The overseas scammer often claims they are working on an oil rig, on a religious mission as a missionary, fishing boat, or mining. It can be any type of job that makes it difficult to remain in constant contact.
Scams to Watch Out For In Person
Sadly, even dating online and meeting an individual can go wrong. It can happen even if you do meet the person in face to face contact. These types of dating scammers will lure you in with elaborate stories about how they are wealthier than they are, successful, single, and so forth. Anytime you meet an individual online in person, remember, they are still a stranger who may attempt to scam you.
The Long Island private investigators at Root Investigations recommend always running a thorough background check along with a social media investigation to see if the person you are meeting is married, has the assets he claims he has, is bankrupt, has a job, a sex offender, has domestic violence cases, or is preying upon multiple women at once. Social media should become your best friend when attempting to see if someone is “real” and who they claim they are or if they are a dating scammer.
How To Avoid Being Scammed If You Are A Divorcee
Here are some simple ways to determine if you’re new romantic connection is really a dating scammer:
- Reverse Image Search. Take the individual on the dating sites profile, save it, and run it through a reverse image search such as TinEye.com. If the individual’s photo comes back with multiple hits, it is a catfish.
- Google Search. Consider doing a Google search for the individual’s username, full name, or any specific sentences he has said to you. When searching, put what you are looking for in quotation marks. For example, if their username is March123432, search “March123432” or their email address and see if anything comes up. Check if any dating site scams have already flagged them and recognize they may be scamming you. You can also check on Google Maps and Google Search any potential addresses the scammer has provided you.
- If Money Is Involved. If they are ever asking you for any sort of money – this is typically a scam. No one looking for love online should need you to purchase gift cards with fake checks, send Western Unions, PayPal, and so forth, no matter how much they cry poverty. If you have not met the person, they are likely using you for your finances.
- It’s Too Good To Be True. Avoid anything too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true, but red flags are being seen, follow your gut.
- They Request Private Information. Are they asking you for your social security number, date of birth, address, or any private banking information? This may seem obvious, but it occurs all too often. A scammer will never need your full banking information to deposit money into your account. Do not ever take out cash advances on your credit card for a scammer. They may do this and pay you back immediately to gain your trust. Then they’ll scam you for more the next time, with no intention of paying you back.
- Do Due Diligence. If you believe someone is scamming you, consider hiring a private investigator to run a background check on the individual. This will allow the investigator to run both a background check and social media investigation, saving you thousands down the line.
- They Never Visit, Phone Chat, or Video Chat. Scammers love to say they will be visiting you soon. Sadly, that day never comes. There will always be an excuse as to why they were unable to make it to your location. They will continue to ask for more money in to visit “next time.” Beware – there will never be a next time.
- They Are Interested In All Of Your Hobbies. A scammer will study you. If every interest you have, they have also, they may be attempting to grab your heart to get closer to your wallet.
- Requesting To Chat On A Different Dating Site. If the person asks you to email instead of using the dating site, it’s another sign of someone who may potentially be scamming you.
- If this individual is on a social media site, check how many friends they have on it. See if they appear to be “real” people or all fake accounts.
- They Are Traveling Overseas for Work. Avoid if the person claims they are from the United States but traveling for long periods overseas.
As we said before, dating after divorce is never easy. Protect yourself by being proactive during the dating process. Always vet individuals, especially if they appear to be too good to be true or moving at a fast pace. Consider obtaining a background check or social media investigation. This will help you verify the person you are speaking to is who they say they are.
Liz Brock is a New York private investigator with Root Investigations, a boutique private investigation firm whose mission is to get to the root of the problem.