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Article Summary: How a typical Internet dating scam works.

In this short article Tucker sets the scene in which Nigerian scammers flourish. He starts out helping us understand why scammers are so motivated to steal your money and why they must work on a shoestring budget. He also describes how an Internet dating scam works. It's interesting stuff and if you are dating online - stuff you need to know.

How a typical Internet dating scam works.

I've been running a free online dating site for more than 10 years and I'd consider myself an authority on detecting fake dating profiles used by scammers. This is the first in a series of articles about dating scams in which we will look at how scammers work - their patterns and their mistakes. By the end of this series you should be able to instantly identify a scammer and be able to steer clear of them.

The landscape:

Free dating sites are the perfect breeding ground for scammers. That is because many scammers are Nigerian or from other impoverished African nations where there is no way that a would-be scammer would be able to scrape together the cash to sign up for even one month of a pay dating site. The twenty or thirty bucks needed to gain access to a pay dating site is about what an average Nigerian makes in a month. Even though access to the Internet is inexpensive (one to two dollars an hour in an Internet cafe) it is still a huge expense. You can see how becoming a scammer is pretty appealing to an otherwise honest individual. Even if the dating scammer is able to talk one person out of a hundred dollars, he or she would be set for months.

How a typical Internet dating scam works:

  1. A scammer registers at an online dating service and creates a profile. The profile will often say that the scammer is an average Caucasian woman living in North America, Australia or Europe. The profile usually includes a few paragraphs of information and a photo. Typically the profile and the photo are completely fictitious and the scammer may not even be the same gender.
  2. Once the profile is in place (sometimes after it is reviewed by the dating site), the scammer begins to send messages to other site members posing as someone interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. The scammer may send messages to hundreds of possible victims at a time - casting a wide net.
  3. Once a victim responds and the pair begins corresponding, some trust develops and a friendship begins. Often the scammer will push the victim into bypassing the dating service messaging system and start communicating directly via email.
  4. Over time, the scammer will continue to build the victim's trust by sending email messages and photos.
  5. Once the scammer has established the illusion in the victim's mind of a genuine and meaningful relationship, he or she will ask the victim for money. Often the scammer will propose that they meet in person and the scammer will ask the victim to send money for airfare or for a travel visa. Another often used need for cash is that the scammer will say s/he has had a family emergency and request money for the hospital, landlord or lawyer.
  6. If the victim complies and sends money to the scammer, he or she will likely receive further requests. For example once the victim has sent the money for a travel visa then the scammer will need money to travel.
  7. Eventually the victim will come to realize that he or she has been scammed, perhaps after waiting at the airport for a "lover" who will never arrive. Meanwhile the scammer has moved on to one or more victims using the same.

In my next article on "how to detect an online dating scam", I'll begin analyzing the scammer's dating profile. You'll quickly see that detecting scammers is a cinch. Stay tuned.

Meta Information:

Article #: 1207
Written by: Tucker
Rating: G = General - All Audiences
Published on: December 01, 2010
Updated: October 01, 2019
About the author:
Tucker is the Webmaster at the first and largest totally free online dating site. With 10 years in the dating business he has seen it all and watched many come and go... Truly an online dating veteran.
See the scammers in action...

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of, it's staff or management. This free advice is for entertainment purposes only.

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