Recently I received this comment from Lee on my article “How to Know When You Are Being Scammed”: “I feel they are ALL SCAMS. Female and male alike on these things are out to steal your money not your heart. I have learned to accept being alone and just worry about my cats and the next day. If it happens, it will happen. Save your money and what is left of your heart!”
As humans we are generally not programmed to desire loneliness, but obviously Lee has had a bad experience with online dating to make a defeatist comment such as this. But something still managed to bring Lee to my site, so perhaps Lee isn’t in the final inning of the game of love just yet.
It’s true that we don’t have to look too far to know about scammers. They seem to be everywhere nowadays; looking to take financial advantage of anyone they can get their hooks into and seniors are sadly the most common victims of con artists because most seniors live alone.
They call our homes pretending to be relatives in distress needing money to bail them out, they show up at our doors selling services that never get delivered once our money has been paid, they distract us in grocery stores and steal our wallets and the list goes on.
And then there are the lowest of the low who will use the pretence of romance (both on the internet and in person) to woo their way into our bank accounts and then slither back under their rocks leaving us poorer, broken hearted and feeling used and stupid. It is truly sad what we are up against. And as the global economy worsens, there will be more scam artists out there so we need to be more on our guard than ever.
Does this mean that every single person who signs up for dating sites is a con man /woman? No more than it means that everyone who shows up at our door is trying to burglarize our home. There are hundreds of thousands of legitimate romance and companionship seekers who end up being successful with relationships and there is no reason to believe you can’t be one of them – as long as you know how to be cautious.
Fortunately we have the internet – the most amazing technological advancement of the last twenty years – which can bring people together from all over the world. Most dating sites are safe and I certainly recommend the most reputable ones on this site, which will charge you to become a member. But understanding how to use a computer and how to surf the net is not enough to guarantee that you won’t come across the occasional fraudster – even on the most reputable dating sites. Everyone is a stranger until you really get to know them, whether you are meeting someone online, or in person at a club, a class, a bar or anywhere.
(1) Take it SLOW. Be patient about meeting someone. If they are the genuine article they will have similar concerns about you being genuine too. If the person is pushy about meeting you too soon this is not a good sign. Move on, even if you’re developing feelings. Easier to cut loose now than when it’s too late.
(2) Be extremely cautious and patient about giving out your home phone number and address. If you want to talk to the person beyond instant messaging, suggest using an online telephoning system like Skype (which cannot be traced to your address) which can also be used in conjunction with a webcam, so you can see who you are actually speaking with. My best advice is only give out your address and phone number once you have done this first.
(3) NEVER (and there are NO exceptions) give personal information about yourself (banking and investment info, business info, social insurance or social security numbers, driver’s licence)
(4) NEVER give out money – no matter how genuine the cause seems or how much pressure someone puts on you. Career con artists know exactly what to say to put a guilt trip on you and will usually connect it to how much you mean to them.
I know many people who have made successful connections on reputable dating sites on the internet who have never encountered a problem with anyone they have met. I truly believe that most people out there are just like you – genuinely looking for love and companionship. Please keep these pointers in mind when you join a dating site but think of them like the rules of the road that you learned when you learned to drive. They are intended to keep you safe but not prevent you from reaching your destination and having some fun along the way. The person of your dreams could be right around the next bend!