Online Dating Safety Tips

Tips for risk-takers, as well as the risk-averse

Posted Nov 25, 2019

Today’s guest blogger is Maggie Kimberl from NowSourcing, Inc.

Is online dating risky?

A study by GlobalWebIndex found that half of online daters consider themselves to be risk-takers - and those people are also more likely to be described as adventurous by others. There are scams to worry about when dating online, but it’s just as easy to fall victim to those scams when dating using other avenues. Romance scams have been around as long as dating, and while they can be extremely costly, there’s no reason to eschew online dating altogether just yet.

According to a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the typical victim of a romance scam is a middle-aged woman who is well-educated but also impulsive, attention-seeking, susceptible to flattery, easily intimidated, generous, holds respect for authority, is a good citizen, and is uncritical. It’s easy to see why this perfect storm of behaviors would be more susceptible to online dating scams, which often involve the loss of a great deal of money.

Relationships are inherently risky. People don’t come with papers warning you of all their difficult-to-detect antisocial behaviors, and hiding those behaviors can be a lot easier behind a screen than it is in person.

The average online dating scam costs seven times that of a typical online scam - $2600. But the older the victim, the higher the cost. For people over the age of 70 the cost of online dating scams averages $10,000. These are just average costs, though. There have been many notable cases of online romance scams costing their victims much more.

In 2016, a Japanese woman sent her online boyfriend, who she thought was a U.S. Army Captain in Syria, more than $200,000. It nearly bankrupted her before she discovered her online boyfriend was actually a ring of 14 scammers in Los Angeles and Nigeria.

Between 2010 and 2012 another woman lost more than $1 million to a dating scammer after cashing out her retirement savings, investments, and even some of her parents’ money. 

Scammers work hard to build trust through frequent contact and the initial ask starts small and will grow larger from there, as will the excuses. The inherent vulnerability of looking for a relationship can leave online daters open to exploitation. A scammer might ask for help with a medical expense or for money to travel to visit their target. One scammer was caught in 2017 after defrauding more than 30 victims out of $1.7 million.

Despite these worst-case scenarios, fewer than half a percent of online daters will experience an online dating scam.

Modern problems require modern solutions, and as we grow busier than ever online dating can be a great way to meet people. More than 35 million Americans have tried online dating and it is becoming more popular than ever. The trick is to do things as safely as possible.

There are steps you can take to ensure your personal safety and to avoid getting scammed. According to Our Dating Journey, protecting your personal information online by ensuring private details of your life are not public is a big first step toward avoiding dating scams. They advise to cross-check a match’s photos to make sure they aren’t stolen, use larger and more reputable apps and sites, and do a background check on anyone you are serious about. 

Online dating doesn’t have to be risky, even if you are a risk-taker.