11 Ways to spot an on-line dating scam

Valentine’s Day tends to make our hearts think of love and for those still looking for that elusive beast, on-line dating sites can provide a way to help Cupid out a little.  I’ve known many who’ve successfully found a match on those sites (me included) but it’s wise to be careful when testing out the waters.

Every year, thousands of people fall for on-line scammers from a variety of sources including dating sites and social media. These thieves are typically from overseas and have perfected their art pretty well. Their goal is simple: they want money and will lie without boundaries in order to get it. Luckily, there are ways to spot them if you’re a little savvy. Below are some tips and red flags to look for if you’re delving into the on-line dating game.

  1. Only one picture in their profile– The scammers steal pictures from the internet. Doing that limits the number of photos they can access since they avoid celebrities. Only having one profile picture in their gallery is a red flag. Exception: If the picture is absolutely horrible and was taken with a cell phone while looking in the bathroom mirror, it’s probably legit. I mean, who would steal that?
  2. Using the word “Dear” – Anyone who starts with “Hello Dear,” or any variation of that is most likely a scammer. Evidently these people overseas don’t realize that Americans haven’t used the word “Dear” to refer to someone since the 1940s. Exception: If they use it in a proper salutation, as in “Dear John,” but even that is kind of weird.
  3. Improper syntax or grammar– The overseas scammers usually have trouble with English. They’ll use odd phrases or sentence structure when responding to messages. Their profiles are typically pretty good as they take more time and get help with those, but when they get to the point where they have to interact quickly to messages, things can fall apart. One man told me he’d like my phone number because, it would be “Very much more easier” to talk. Huh? Exception: Sometimes texting on their phone can cause auto-correct to do some goofy things and make someone say something they didn’t Nintendo.
  4. Push for phone number or private email quickly—They want to get you off platform as soon as possible so there is no evidence at the site of their scam attempts. Don’t give it to them until you are sure they’re the real deal. Exception: They’re not a scammer, but they’re a serial killer and are hiding evidence. Either way, don’t do it!
  5. Obviously didn’t read your profile-The scammers have standard contact statements they cut and paste into multiple messages for their first contact. They’re talking to many other people while they’re talking to you. The messages are pretty easy to spot in that they lack details that pertain to you. For example, it will likely say, “I liked your profile. You have a sweet smile and seem like someone I’d like to know better.” Exception: They’re a narcissist and really don’t care what you said in your profile.
  6. Remove profile or block you if you mention a scam concern—I responded to one man who’d I suspected to be a scammer, but wasn’t sure. When he asked for my phone number I told him I’d feel more comfortable with messaging for a while since there were so many scammers on the site. Not only did he not respond, he blocked me immediately.
  7. They usually claim to be younger than their target group—A 45 year-old male seeking women between 50 and 65? What are the odds of that? The scammers know that older women are usually lonely and have available cash. A 20 year-old woman has to borrow money for Taco Bell. She’s of no use to them. Many older women are easily flattered by the attentions of a young handsome man and will ignore the red flags. Exception: If the 45 year-old man is as ugly as a garden rake and has the same number of teeth, he might be legit.
  8. Claims to be a woman contacting you for her brother—Or some other close friend of hers. The picture will be a nice older lady and will pique the curiosity of the woman receiving the message enough for them to open and read it. They usually say something like, “Hello Dear” (There’s that darned Dear again) I was trying to get my brother/friend to start on-line dating and I was showing him how the sites work. He saw your profile and was intrigued, but he’s too shy to contact you. If you would email/call him at xxx-xxxx he would be so happy. I’m going to be removing my profile soon as I’ve already found someone.” Exception: None. That’s a flat out scam from Hades.
  9. Too good to be true—He’s handsome, wealthy, moral, has a lot in common with you, looking for a special someone…right. Exception: There are some of those out there, but if they have any of the other warning signs, be cautious. Perfect men are usually snatched up by perfect women who look like Barbie dolls.
  10. No pictures—This might not indicate a scammer, but it does increase the chances he’s married and doesn’t want his wife’s friends to tell her they saw his profile on a dating site. These guys will offer to send a picture via private email, but…(see above) Exception: He might be well known and embarrassed to be on a dating site. However, if you decide to take that chance, make sure he introduces you to his friends and family quickly. If he’s cheating on his wife, he won’t do that.
  11. They claim to be American, but have an accent—I was talking to one woman who was getting ready to send an “American architect” stuck overseas, $1200 so he could fly home and fix his banking issue. She had talked to him on the phone and he had an accent, but that was because his mother was French…Really? He was born and grew up in the US, but he had a French accent? I’ve known many bilingual citizens (Including my granddaughter) and they spoke English and their second language with no accent at all. If they sound funny and they’re not Henny Youngman, be wary.


If your potential date passes the above criteria there’s another way to spot a scammer. Their story usually follows a particular pattern: They’re American and wealthy, but they’re stuck overseas (Or someplace far enough away from you that you can’t just drive and pick them up.) For some weird reason, they can’t access their vast wealth, for instance: their credit card was stolen, the bank froze their accounts due to a computer glitch, etc. They need you to lend them some money so they can get home. They’ll repay you by Tuesday, as soon as they can get to the bank and straighten things out.  There are variations on this theme, of course. They might be letting you in on an investment opportunity that’s going to make you rich, or they have a child that needs surgery and they don’t know what to do…whatever. The point is, they present a need for cash. If they’re really good, they never ask for it directly. They hint around hoping the woman offers to help them. They might even half-heartedly refuse the help at first. “I don’t want to take your money. Let me try once more to get this mess straightened out and if I can’t, I’ll call/text you back.”

The things you have to remember are:

  1. The man in the picture is NOT the man you’re talking to.
  2. He’s talking to several other women too. He’s most likely overseas, sitting at a computer, chatting up many women.
  3. These are often done in office like settings with several scammers working together.
  4. They will lie, and they’re good at what they do.
  5. Never, ever, ever send cash, give credit card or social security numbers, or anything they can use to get money out of you.

While it is possible to find good matches on these sites – I have many friends who’ve found spouses on them- you must be cautious. A “real” contact will understand that and won’t pressure you to do more than you’re comfortable with.

Good luck and be careful!

Lisa Cooke





A Few Wise Men

A few thoughts from History Imagined

History Imagined

One question is, how many?

Fra Angelico, 1445

Last week Lin Manuel Miranda posted about his son’s celebration of La Víspera de Reyes, the eve of the Three Kings’ Day to social media. He introduced me to the charming Puerto Rican custom in which children leave a box of grass for the camels of the three kings who will bring gifts to children on that day. Statues of the famous kings began appearing in nativity scenes in churches the same day and (if they weren’t already there) in the private homes of people who celebrate religious Christmas.

The iconography of the Three Kings intrigues me. We always learn more about the era in which an image is created than we do about the subject of the graphical image. Sometimes the evolution of the symbols and art motifs are more interesting than the story they tell. The three “kings,” are a…

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The Anti-Opium Crusader

Caroline posts to History Imagined every three weeks.

History Imagined

Lin Zexu

Not all the interesting and colorful characters from the 1830s were British. Lin Zexu, also known as Lin Tse-hsu, a Chinese scholar and government official, rubbed against the British mercantile ambitions of that era with dogged determination and incorruptible integrity. Unfortunately, the First Opium War broke out as one unintended consequence of his efforts. The humiliating defeat and resulting unequal treaty caused in Lin’s downfall. He became a scapegoat and spent much of his remaining years banished to the mountainous central-Asian Xinjiang frontier province of Xinjiang. Today he is widely regarded as a hero in China.

Born August 30, 1785, in in Fujian province in relative poverty, his father, a teacher, made sure he received a classical Confucian education. His brilliance led eventually to the highest degrees and success in civil-service examinations. By age twenty he served as an aide to the governor of his home province. He…

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When it doesn’t look like Christmas…

Walking in a winter wonderlandOh the weather outside is frightfulBaby it’s colA Sunny Christmasd outside….

RECORD SCRATCH! STOP! I don’t know what it’s like where you are right now, but the only white part of Christmas where I live is the sugar-white sand of the beaches. Continue reading “When it doesn’t look like Christmas…”

First Kiss Friday with guest Caroline Warfield

A sweet excerpt on time for the holidays.

Sherry Ewing

It’s another First Kiss Friday and today I have my friend Caroline Warfield as my guest. Caroline has a new story out entitled Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil that is just in time for the holiday’s. We hope you enjoy this first kiss scene. Happy reading!


“Don’t get up, Lottie. Are you well?” He raised the candle to see her face better. The purple smudges under her eyes hadn’t abated.

She looked back, puzzled. “Well enough. Why did you come?”

His eyes scanned her, from the glorious hair to the tips of those graceful toes. He tried to remind himself of his professional demeanor, but diagnosis played no part in this scrutiny.

“Salvo?” Lottie asked, her voice thick.

“I’m sorry, Lottie. You should not be embroiled in my family’s crisis.”

She pulled her gown down to cover herself. He suspected she blushed rather in the semi-darkness, but he couldn’t pull his…

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It’s beginning to look a lot like….

The “Peppermint Swirl” afghan I made looks very festive!

Now is the time when so many of us – especially the crafters among us – are frantically working on the handmade gifts that we plan to give to our friends and family. A handmade gift is the perfect way to share just a little part of ourselves with those we love. Continue reading “It’s beginning to look a lot like….”

Friday Features Never Too Late

C.D. Hersh

Friday Features


Caroline Warfield

An Introduction

When the Bluestocking Belles let their readers select story elements for their next anthology, I was given a trope (a compromising situation that isn’t what it seems) and three other things (a Bible, an heroine in her thirties with hazel eyes, and a wise old man) that I had to include in my story. The setting that popped into my mind almost immediately was France in 1916. You may guess that unleashed the need for research. The result of it all was my story “Roses in Picardy” in the anthology Never Too Late, which goes live November 4. TOMORROW!

Food in the Trenches 1916

First of all, keep in mind that no one starved. The aphorism that an army runs on its stomach was as true then as ever. The armies made every effort to feed their men, even while civilian populations actually…

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Time Travel

From History Imagined, about the long arc of history.

History Imagined

time travel Standing Stones of Stenness (Author’s Photo)

I learned at a young age that time is relative, particularly historical time. Something ancient history to me might be a fond memory to my parents or grand parents. (Or not so fond, as in the Great Depression or various wars.) My mother liked to laugh about the occasion when she woke up her history-obsessed daughter so she could view a site we passed during a long trip. She knew I hated to miss a historical marker. I supposedly commented, “That isn’t very old. Groton is older,” and promptly went back to sleep. We lived in Groton Massachusetts for less than a year, but it had apparently reset my historical clock from Midwest time to New England time.

On my first visit to London, I had a similar experience. I took the underground to the Tower of London, the first place on my wish…

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Venice, The Foundry, The Ghetto

Lady Charlotte’s Christmas Vigil is set in Venice…travel always wakes up Caroline’s muse.

History Imagined

Islands pepper the well known Venetian lagoon, but canals and rivulets divide within the city proper into islands as well. Venice set aside one of those islands, site of a copper foundry, as the Jewish quarter 501 years ago. I toured it in fascination during my rambles a few years ago; I went back the next day. The Venetian Ghetto was and continues to be a vibrant center of Jewish culture.

The Ponte Vecchio Ghetto, once gated and locked at night. The multi-stories are a clue you are entering the ghetto.

Though confined to their own quarter, Venetian Jews enjoyed relatively more freedom than they did in other parts of Europe—if being relieved from the threat of forced conversion (such as they faced in Rome or Spain in the 1500s) or pogroms (such as took place in Germany and elsewhere) can be considered freedom. The resulting influx of people swelled…

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