I’m going to start with stating the obvious.
Dating. Is. Hard.
As a twenty-something year old single person, I can tell you
dating is insane right now. Not because the divorce rate is up, careers usually
come first or that people have given up on love all together. All those things
are true, but it’s really that there are so many ways to connect. With dating
sites and the ability to meet people online, it has opened so many new doors.
Some of those doors lead to scammers, too.
I don’t blame those who fall for romance scams.
This time last year, I was in such a dark place. The dream
of romance was the only thing that got me excited and you could probably have
called me a serial dater. I went on dates left and right with people that I met
online. I was new to Boise, didn’t know anyone and was desperate to find
someone I could spend some quality time with.
Dating sites and mutual friends on social platforms gave me
the tools I needed to chat with people online, figure out if they shared common
interests, meet up or move on. This was a nearly weekly deal for me. I was going
out, meeting people, excited and full of hope, only to be let down.
Hey, I almost did it, too!
Courtney is the name and Bumble was the game. I chose the
platform because ladies get to make the first move. While I am old school when
it comes to dating, this seemed a little safer to me. So, I did what most
millennials do, I started swiping.
David’s profile said he was a 25-year-old grad student,
loved podcasts, dogs, the great outdoors and drinking wine. Score! Only
problem, he didn’t really have any good photos of himself. No mind, its
personalities that count, right?
As a total music junkie, I started by asking him who is
favorite band was. My go-to question. His response was something smooth and
mysterious like, “I don’t really confine myself to one favorite band”. Quickly
we began chatting about dogs, wine and all his favorite podcasts.
After a day or two of chatting on the app, David gave me his
number. “I’m tired of opening the app every time I want to chat with you”, he’d
say. I’m not one to give out my number to a total stranger. So, I invited him
to either follow me on Instagram or meet me in person before I gave him my
He seemed less than thrilled but followed me on Instagram
instead. His profile was the same five photos as on his Bumble profile and all the
photos were uploaded the same day he followed. I couldn’t help but think, did
he create an Instagram just to talk to me?
As if that wasn’t weird enough, he could never meet up. We
would make plans to connect and like clockwork he would have to cancel an hour
before our scheduled meetup time. After the third time he bailed on me, I was
over it. I felt like I was putting too much effort into meeting up with someone
I didn’t even know. I stopped responding to his messages, leaving him on “read”
so that he might get the message.
After a week or two of not talking, he reached out to tell
me he had to go to Lebanon to go pick his little brother up from a mission. He
had gotten sick while he was there, and he apologized for not reaching out.
Mind you, I hadn’t responded to a single message for a month
at this point. He told me that he would be back in a week and he wanted to meet
up when he got back. I responded with, “Okay, safe travels”. Not a week later,
he messaged me saying his brother had gotten into some trouble with the law and
he needed $5,000 to bail him out. I immediately blocked him.
Identifying the red flags.
Okay so clearly “David” wasn’t really into me he just wanted
to scam me out of money. There were red flags and I am so lucky I recognized
He quickly moved off
the dating site. A catfisher will
try very quickly to get you to move to communicating through email, messenger,
or phone. I have a rule that if I haven’t met them in person, they don’t need
to know any personal information about me.
He didn’t ever meet me
in person. It’s easy to think, “oh
they’re just busy,” but the reality is, they’re probably nowhere near you and can’t
He had a hard luck
story. Lebanon? Not sure why he chose that country but asking for money
from someone you don’t know is a huge NO. If anyone you haven’t established a
really, tight-knit personal, face-to-face relationship with asks you for money,
delete, block, throw away your phone, change your number, whatever. There is a
99% chance they’re scamming you.
It can happen to ANYONE.
Even after that strange interaction, I don’t have anything
against dating sites. I have met some incredible people this way, but I have
also come across some creeps, crazies and I’m sure more than just one scammer.
So, there you go, a very average young woman who works for Better Business
Bureau can also be targeted by one of these scams.
I feel especially grateful to work for an organization like BBB
at this point in my life. In a world with so many scams (and I mean hundreds if
not thousands attempted in your city today alone), working in an environment
where talking about scams is so normal has been key to my success in not
falling for them.
I realize that whoever is reading this likely doesn’t work for BBB, in which case, come join our team, we rock! But also, there are resources for you. www.BBB.org/scamtracker is an incredible resource for anyone who might be getting scammed. It can be completely anonymous, so don’t be afraid to drop your story there.
Moral of the story: stay safe and don’t send money to people you meet online.