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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Is your online lover too good to be true?

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Know the red flags of a love scammer

Dating in the digital age has become easier with numerous apps and services. By the end of 2023, 441 million people actively used dating apps, generating $8.7 billion in global revenues.

Dating apps allow you to meet people beyond geographical limits, see their profiles, and interests, and chat to assess compatibility before meeting in person.

Many Filipinos have fallen victim to romance scams online. To combat this, the Facebook page Online Alerto crowdsources information to raise awareness about scams. It offers insights, resources, and strategies on digital literacy, cybersecurity, and responsible online behavior.

Online Alerto shares several steps to help protect people from scams as they try to look for love online

Online Alerto is a free collaborative platform where members can validate online purchases and share personal experiences to enhance online safety. While identity theft and hacking are the leading global cybercrimes, love scams are rapidly rising, especially in Southeast Asia, affecting both victims and trafficked scammers.

Online Alerto provides warnings and tips on avoiding love scams.

Avoid these red flags

The person expresses strong emotions and love for you quickly, often within days or weeks of initial contact.

They quickly ask you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly on WhatsApp or SMS, where they can manipulate you more easily.

If an individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information, they could later blackmail you or extort money from you.

When you make plans to meet in person, they always come up with an excuse why they can’t.

They ask for money for various reasons such as travel expenses, medical emergencies, or business opportunities. This is often the biggest and most obvious red flag. 

They tell you stories to elicit sympathy, such as being widowed, having a sick child, or facing some urgent crisis.

They ask you many questions, but they avoid sharing their personal details or giving information that cannot be verified, such as a home address or workplace.

What scammers say to hook you in

“I or someone close to me is sick, hurt, or in jail.”

“I can teach you how to invest.”

“I’m in the military far away.”

“I need help with an important delivery.”

“We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage.”

“I’ve come into some money or gold.”

“I’m on an oil rig or ship.”

“You can trust me with your private pictures.”

Ways to protect yourself

Reverse search the person’s photo by using online searches like Google Images.

Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.

Maintain a healthy level of skepticism, especially if things seem too good to be true.

Suggest a video call early in your communication.

Check their social media profiles for consistency with what they’ve told you. Look for a reasonable number of friends, photos, and posts over time. A lack of social media presence or a newly created profile can be a red flag.

If you decide to meet in person, choose a public place and inform a friend or family member about your plans. Ensure the person you meet matches their online presence.

Some dating apps offer identity verification features, like blue checkmarks, to indicate users who have verified their identity through the app.

Join Online Alerto on Facebook to better protect yourself from romance and other scams and learn from other people’s experiences.

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