What is a dating scam?
On a dating website, a scammer is someone who pretends to be a legitimate user of the website, builds rapport with you online, then attempts to persuade you to send them money, obtain personal or financial information about you , or redirect you to another website which may require payment or download unsafe software onto your computer.
Scams can be very sophisticated and scammers will go to great lengths to build a relationship with you, spending a lot of time communicating with you and perhaps even telling you they love you and sending you gifts. They often create stories involving sick relatives, or accidents to exploit your sympathy, then request money to help them.
Scammers will often ask you to send money via a wire transfer service - you will usually be unable to recover money sent this way. You should also never share personal information, such as bank account or credit card details as you risk falling victim to fraud and identity theft.
The key rule is that you should never send money to anyone you meet online and you should reconsider a relationship with someone who asks you for money or who you otherwise suspect may be a scammer.
How to identify a scam?
Any of the following behaviours should raise concerns that the person you are interacting with is a scammer:
- Declarations of love. If someone you are in contact with starts declaring their love for you within a matter of weeks (or even days), be cautious. The emails may be long and romantic, so be careful to use your best judgement. If you are unsure, get a second opinion from a friend or suggest a phone call with them to help you make a decision about this person's intentions or legitimacy.
- Requests for money. Beware of any mention of financial difficulty and the need or request for financial assistance. This can come in the form of requests for money to pay for a visa, an airfare or to help a sick relative, or asking for your personal or financial details. Beware of anyone asking you to use a wire transfer service.
- Someone offers money to you. These are always scams. Always. Check Scamwatch for more details and examples. This includes emails requesting your account details so transfers can be made, and emails announcing that you've won a lottery or cash prize.
- Links to photos on other sites. Emails that ask you to follow links to other sites are likely to be part of a scam activity and should not be clicked. RSVP does not have links to photos on other sites.
- The age of the member. Are they young and good looking or out of your specified age requirements? This could be suspect.
- Contacts from, or trips overseas. Be cautious if you are in contact with a member who claims to live overseas, mentions friends who have met on RSVP and have moved to Australia and they would like to do the same. They may claim to be stationed in or travel frequently to Africa or other countries. They may also claim to be of mixed African descent, and are overseas visiting relatives.
- Evasive behaviour. They are vague in their communication about their interests, or what they want in a partner. They do not answer your questions or their responses are formulaic, nonsensical or repetitive. Their profile or communications with you show poor spelling and grammar.
It's important to consider your relationship with anyone who asks you to move communications away from RSVP onto email, instant messaging, the phone, voice over IP or another medium after only a few contacts. Scammers will often ask you to do this so that you will be communicating directly with them, and may be more likely to reveal personal information. In this case, you would not receive safety warnings from us, and it would make it more difficult for us to detect them.
Long distance relationships are part of online dating success, and this can happen. However, if you do start to communicate with someone who is living in another city and can't afford a plane ticket to visit, consider your options carefully. We advise that you never send money to anyone you have met online. If you have been in touch on email and phone, and you would really like to meet, we suggest you meet somewhere neutral or else if you are prepared to take a chance and meet someone in another state or city, visit them and pay your own way. Never send money to anyone that wants to visit you.
If you come across members that you feel may be on RSVP with the intention to scam others, please contact us so we can investigate.
Read more on Dating Safely:
- Dating Safely - Introduction
- Your protection & security
- Before you meet
- The first date
- Identifying a scam
- Scammer examples
- How a scam might play out
- Suspect a scam?