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40 million Americans use online dating sites, according to a survey by Match.com, and that number continues to grow each year. For many, online dating provides an easy and accessible way to meet potential companions through a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

However, an increase in online dating site users means an increase in the likelihood for scams on these platforms. If you choose to use an online dating site, be proactive and know the warning signs to avoid being scammed while searching for a potential love interest.

Look for the red flags. Be wary if your online date…

  • Professes feelings of love almost instantly;
  • Urges you to stop using the website and communicate instead through personal email or text message;
  • Always has a reason for being unable to meet in person;
  • Sends you a picture of himself or herself that looks fake or you recognize the person in the picture as being a celebrity;
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is travelling or working overseas;
  • Asks you for money.

Typically, the objective of an online dating scammer is to trick another user into sending him or her money or financial information. The scammer may take weeks or months to form a connection with another user, communicating regularly to develop a sense of trust that can later be manipulated.

If you become suspicious of an online date’s actions, our office and the Better Business Bureau recommend the following steps to determine if you are being scammed:

  • Look him or her up on social media. If he or she has an unusually small number of friends or pictures, or has just recently joined the social media site, be wary.
  • Search the individual’s name on Google to find out who or what he or she is associated with.
  • Search the user’s name on Google Images. If his or her picture appears on multiple dating sites under different names, be cautious—it may be a scammer.

Online dating sites typically have the ability to monitor and remove members who are behaving inappropriately on the site or are suspected of scamming other users. If you suspect that your online date is a scammer, report him or her to the site and to our office. If you have given the scammer money or financial information, contact your financial institution immediately.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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