A few girls are gathered around a table during a happy hour (or a Zoom call during Covid!) sharing the juice on their online dating sagas. Every inch of their stories is compelling, often disturbing, and most of all, beyond ridiculous. You either walk away relieved that you did not share the same experiences, or, for the majority of us, wonder when the online dating blunders will come to an end.
Many people have found their true love online, but the majority of us have wacky and unreal experiences that often reveal the whirlwind of the online dating game. We’ve all heard the harrowing stories of online dating, and if you’re up for more entertaining ones, check out The Woes and Joys of Online Dating!
Recently I’ve learned that ghosting, gaslighting, and breadcrumbs were the least of my worries when it came to confronting scammers. Yes, scammers are alive and well, and more deceiving and clever now than ever before. They know exactly how to dangle the bait, reel you and stir your emotions into a whirlwind of heartache and resentment.
Facebook’s algorithms and cookies advertise dating apps and sites. Typically I ignore them, but after reading a few comments, I couldn’t help but explore what other women are experiencing in the online dating world:
The obvious and painstaking struggle online daters face revolve around paying to date, scammers, and weirdos. The cunningness of scammers can be very deceptive, but with the right tools, they can be spotted and blocked. I, as well as a sleuth of women, have been duped with online dating, especially if your intentions are genuine and trustworthy. In November of 2020 I was duped to the extent that it was not astounding but also life-changing. I couldn’t believe that I was falling for a person who wasn’t real. Luckily, it lasted for only 4 days and I only lost some of my self-esteem.
Capturing and noting the red flags make it easier to hit, report, and block scammers. Below are some tricks of the trade to keep scammers afar and your dukes up!
1) Cut through the crap–be picky!
No one has the time or the luxury to talk via messenger for an excessive amount of time and days. That’s not dating! Of course, a few messages to get the ball rolling are necessary; however when someone outlines his/her hopes, desires, and dreams in a string of messages, you should be suspicious. Remember, this person is hiding behind a screen, somewhere in the world, only giving you what you think you need to hear in order to stay in the game.
They will ask many questions, even using pet names such as dear and sweetie to further lure your affection. Be aware! At the first mention of a trip to take together, he’s scamming you! They will even message excessively throughout the day, moving way too fast in a short amount of time.
Whenever people diagnose my singleness as being too picky, I cannot help but want to show them this:
Shame indeed! As you can see, the person obviously was not consistent with the information he provided, including the photos. Reverse photo search is a big help when in doubt of a person’s authenticity.
2) Remain chatting in the app
In the introductory stage of chatting, once you get past the how are you’s and fun hobbies, if the person wants to continue the conversation outside the dating app, unless it’s Facebook or IG Messenger, refrain from leaving. For one, you can easily report and block the individual, and secondly, they don’t want to get caught, so taking it off the app gets them one step closer to attain their perverted goal. I immediately reported the user, and in this case, Coffee Meets Bagel took it pretty seriously and inquired for additional information. I made the mistake of taking the conversation off the app way too early. However, I kept the user in the dating app so I was only a click away from reporting.
Phone calls are fine, but in the end, it doesn’t absolutely assure the person is real. When in doubt, I’ve used the following message:
“After attempted scams on the dating app, I would feel more assured to continue once I receive validation, such as a photo of you holding a paper with your name on it or connection to your social media profile.”
Typically men are completely understanding and relate to the situations, and will certainly comply. For those who get upset and ask for your ID first are pretty much busted.
3) Social Media and Reverse Photo Search
My friends and I agree that asking for their social media platform is crucial in pinning someone’s identity. Of course, scams exist on social media, but it helps with checking their photos, and in some ways, getting to know them further. Maybe you have mutual friends, which illuminates the fear of talking to a scammer.
Reverse photo search is simple- on the Google mainpage, click on Image, and then upload the photo to do a “photo search”. There are paid services that may provide more results, but Google does the trick when in doubt.
4) A virtual date, COVID style!
I get it, a video date is not ideal. Dating apps are utilizing the video feature as a vital tool in meeting safely and securely without having to hand-out your phone number. A few of my virtual dates were not the best, but it definitely helped with weeding out the no-no’s. Most importantly, you actually get to see the person. Scammers will avoid video chatting. A happy hour virtual date is completely doable, sometimes whimsical, and often will lead to an in-person date.
5) Wayyy too forward- Bye, Felicia!
Scammers have perfected the suave Casanova front with flatteries, compliments, and pet names. Once after 10 message exchanges, the scammer wanted to plan a trip to see the northern lights. I didn’t even know his favorite color, but he was already trying to plant the seed that a trip together was imminent. That to me calls for a straight report and block option.
6) If the story doesn’t add up, hang up!
Dating online is a playing field where the rules of the game are constantly shifting and changing. As irresistible it is to have prince charming sweep you off your feet, online dating must be led with critical thinking and openness. Casting a wider net has its limits on catching a few scammers, but there are men out there who are genuine and respectful.
Surprisingly, IG reels and TikTok dating advice have been a huge encouragement and support for my friends and me. These are therapists whose female clients are in their best interests. They break down the stereotypes and norms, and provide advice to tackle dating in the 21st century. Click and follow 👇🏼, and let’s keep dating smartly!