In case you hadn't noticed, today is Valentines day. Ads are all over the TV promising that every item is "the perfect gift for Valentines day", flowers have doubled in price, all the cinemas are showing are love stories and you can't get a table at a restaurant for love nor money. If you're single and looking for love, you may decide to go online. Beware, as scammers are everywhere, looking for victims to fleece. Here's some ways to spot if that cutie is real or a scammer:
Does the name have "4real", "2luv" or something similar? That's very typical for the West African scammers.
Are the photos obvious modelling shots? Best to check them to see if they actually do belong to a model.
If you Google Image Search
their photo, does it show up elsewhere, or with a different name/location/age? Did it turn up on a porn site? Did you find it listed on any antiscam sites? Scammers steal photos to use, so if you find it elsewhere it's a good sign the person you're talking to is a scammer.
Are their pictures of different people? Scammers quite often put pictures of people who are similar, but different in their profiles.
Is there an email address in their "about me"? Is it broken up, or disguised in some way in an attempt to bypass site filters? Again, common scammer trick.
Is their name backwards? I don't mean yaM enyaW, but "May Wayne". Is it two last names? "Smith Davies" for example is a typically scammerish name. Is it spelled incorrectly, such as Scoot or Marry?
Google parts of their "about me". Does it show up elsewhere? Does it show up as having been used in scams already? Bad sign.
Read their profile carefully. Are there inconsistencies with their gender? Do they talk about the things they want to do for their, wife, then say something like "He must have......"? Scammers copy content and alter it to suit the gender of their profile, but don't always fix every instance.
What about their location? "Alabama, Asia" or "Lagos, Canada" are more signs it's a scammer.
Another mistake they make is to refer to themselves as "Native American" instead of "American". If a blonde haired, blue eyed female claims to be "Native American" you can be pretty sure it's a scammer.
Does their profile consist of nothing but a single sentence, repeated several times. Typically this is the sign of a Senegal refugee scammer. Likewise "Remember the distance or color does not matter but love matters a lot in life" will tell you the same thing.
Are they "but presently in xxxxxx for some reason"? Often this will be for a business trip or to collect an inheritence after the death of a parent.
Reading their profile, does it exhibit some of the common scammer speech patterns such as "am" instead of "I am", "I will like" instead of "I would like", "only child of my parents", "by profession", "God fearing"? If they claim to be caucasian then this is considered a bad sign. Claiming they have "black eyes" when the photo is caucasian should get your spidey senses tingling.
Does their profile have mixed case, especially when everything but personal details are in caps?
Are they coming up with excuses why they can't appear on webcam? Scammers use stolen photos, so will avoid webcam chats in order to not reveal their real identity.
Did they claim to be a scamfighter/in law enforcement and ask you if you were scammed before? This is so they can claim to be able to get your money back and run what's known as a recovery scam on you.
Are they claiming to be a soldier on service in a foreign country? Scammers will play the part of soldiers, and request you send money so they can travel to be with you or use a special phone to talk to you.
Does their profile cut off abruptly and mid sente
If they wrote to you, did they try to get you off the site and into Skype or Instant Messenger. Scammers know their profile will likely be deleted, so write to a number of people asking them to contact them off site.
Let's say you actually wrote them. Did they start professing love way too quickly? Did they start referring to you as "my wife" or "my husband"? This is done to create a feeling of intimacy with the victim. Be very very suspicious.
If you know how to find the email headers and the originating IP address in them, then go here
and see if they match the location they claim to be at. Be aware that some email providers such as Google will only show their IP address and not the IP address of the person sending the emails.
Finally, did they ask for money? The sole purpose of the scam is to empty your bank balance. The simple rule is, if anyone you've only ever met online asks you for money for any reason, DON'T PAY THEM. Don't feel sorry for them. Don't worry yourself thinking "what if they're genuine?". If they ask for money, walk away.