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Internet Dating Scams - And How to Avoid Them

Online Dating Scams – Wasted Money and Broken Hearts

“Wasted Money and Broken Hearts” could have been the chorus of aHank Williams song if he sang about dating scams.  You get defrauded, tricked, fooled, and deeply embarrassed.  It is a financial crime, but also an emotional crime.  It is a sad, sad song and you don’t need to a steel guitar playing backup to understand the pain it causes.    

Dating fraud hurts, because one you took a risk for someone you believed in.  You listened, you understood, and you trusted this person that you had never met.  In some regards, getting scammed simply proves you are a good person, BUT it is still abominable.

Fear about dating scams one of the main reasons that men are reluctant to pursue international dating, but is this really problem just for mail order bride sites? Or to put it another way, are you more likely to be ripped off on Amolatina than you are on domestic dating sites or from meeting a beautiful woman in a hotel bar? 

Well, one piece of good news is that the most recent academic research has proven is marriage fraud is not nearly the issue for couples that meet on international dating site as the mainstream media has portrayed.  In fact, there are FEWER divorces among these couples than among couples in general. 

That means that concerns about “green card” marriages where the woman is simply marrying the man to get permanent residence in the United States, Western Europe, Australia, or another first world country is generally a myth.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this article: Divorce and Mail Order Brides it is load with links to academic research that proves its assertion that these marriages are legit.

Think about this for a moment.  What should you do to help you avoid scams?

wasted money broken hearts

Be the Guy They Want

Well, first ponder why all of these amazingly beautiful women are signing up on international dating sites? You just learned that there is overwhelming evidence that the marriages that develop on international dating sites work.  That suggests that the overwhelming number of women on these sites are serious about dating a Western man.

It means that you can decrease your chances of getting scammed by paying attention to what the women want because most of the women really are looking, hoping, and dreaming about the perfect foreign man.  They know it is much better to marry a great guy than to scam him out of a hundred or even a thousand dollars.  This is true in every region of the world.

And here is the thing, the vast majority of women tell guys this in their profile.  They are searching for a “serious relationship” and nearly all of them are being honest.  If you don’t believe that do a little research. 

For an easy example read about the cultural issues inspiring Russian mail order brides to sign up with dating agencies. Those cultural issues are largely the same across Eastern Europe, but what determines whether there is a small stream of mail order brides or a torrent of beautiful, intelligent ladies is the state of a nation’s political and economic situation. 

For instance, right now our Polish page is nearly bare, because the Polish economy is booming, the country is part of the European Union, and the people are extremely upbeat.  Our Ukrainian section has hundreds of incredible women, because there is simmering in the eastern part of the country and the economy is a mess.

In all of the Asian countries we cover, the cultural situation is the driving factor in all of the countries we cover.  If you do not believe that you need to stop and read our article about China’s Unmarriable Brides. For these women and millions of other Asian women meeting a decent foreign man is like winning the lottery and that is a big part of why they are so kind and appreciative to good guys.  They know what their life would be like if they married a local man.

The story in Latin America is similar to Eastern Europe in terms of being a deeply patriarchal society that allows and even encourages machismo and discrimination against women. That has led to a steady flow of women from Colombia, Costa Rica, and Brazil over the years, but the big flood of ladies looking for foreign men is driven by politics and economics.

Right now, Peru and Chile are not international dating hot spots because they have good economies and stable political situations.  Venezuela, the Central America countries, and even Mexico are all facing political instability and horrifying levels of criminal violence, and this is driving increased numbers of mail order brides from those regions.   

So, if you are serious you have a far less chance of being scammed than if you come off as a player.  Does that mean that serious guys never get scammed – no.  Does it mean that players always get scammed – no.  The overwhelming majority of these women do not want to scam you they want to marry you.

But if you come off as a player or a jerk, if you don’t show these ladies a little respect and appreciation, you are painting a bullseye on your wallet.  A significant number of these serious girls who are really hoping to meet prince charming are more than willing to play a player. 

Even if you are more interested in dating that marriage don’t be a jerk or a cad.  Be polite and kind and let the women know that you are a real person with a real heart who is not looking to hurt or mislead them.  That will keep you from becoming a target for the majority of women who are not really interested in scamming anyone, but it does not do you any good against the professional scam artists.

internet age romance

Romance in The Internet Age

Online romance creates an almost perfect situation for dedicated professional scammers.  In many regards online romance breaks some of the most basic human mating rules and sets EVERYONE up to get scammed. Serious men and women, want to be playboys and hot gold digger can all be scammed or at least bitterly disappointed if they are not careful

The most basic mistake that trips up everyone who gets tangled up in an internet dating scam is that the internet is the most powerful communication tool in human history.  Sometimes it is easy to forget that, but it is truly amazing.  Think about it.

You can be sitting in Burger King in Sedalia, Missouri looking at hot Russian women on your phone.  You can type a message to a tall blond in Moscow who is one of the sexiest women in all of Russia. than any woman you have ever met in person.

You hit send and sometimes in less than and sometimes in less than ten seconds you will get a message back from a Russian goddess who looks like she could be Putin’s favorite mistress.  At least, that who is supposed to be texting you, but… how do you really know for sure who is really texting you?

Today we are so use to this we do not stop and think about it, but it is truly incredible.  For most of human history the only way to communicate was face to face. 

Even letters are a recent development in the grand scheme of human history and were mostly reserved for kings, generals, and captains of finance for the first couple of millennia they existed. Even in the early years of the United States – before about 1810 – the average American probably received only a handful of letters over the course of their lifetime.  Postal rates were expensive, roads were poor, and the nearest post offices was probably miles away across swamps, forests, mountains, or prairie.

What this means is that most of us tend to treat a communication from someone over the internet the same way we would as face to face communication.  That is the basic human default, because for 99.99% of human history face to face communication was the only type of communication. 

This is the reason why people imagine they know celebrities they have seen on television or the internet.  These celebrities try hard to communicate with their fans and because for most of human history – where the vast majority of people lived in small groups of less than a hundred – if someone communicated with you then you actually did have a personal relationship with them. 

Internet scammers understand this human frailty and like movie stars, politicians, and car salesmen they do their best to exploit it.  In order to avoid letting this weakness overwhelm your good judgment you need to recognize it and address it. 

Go slow.  Treat your online relationship with the same type of judgment and respect as you would a face to face relationship.  Sometimes things go really fast online, but try not to commit to anything until you actually meet the woman you are communicating with. 

In real life most of us would never meet someone and propose to them after a couple of hours of talking, but sometimes that happens online.  Sometimes online relationships get turbo charged because the distance can create a sense of comfort and get us to reveal deeply personal information very early in the relationship.  That creates a sort of warp drive effect where you get very serious very quickly. 

Instead make small talk.  Ask about their favorite books and movies.  Talk about your job and your home town.  Take your time baring your soul, because that will tend to ratchet up the emotional intensity.  Just try to treat it like you would if you were seated next to a hot woman on a long plane trip. You would not tell her your deepest erotic fantasies before the first the plane reached cruising altitude, not if you didn’t want to find out who the Air Marshall actually was.

At the same time you need to develop an understanding of the basic anatomy of an online dating scam.

A Guide to The Basic Types of Online Dating Scams

This is a short review of the most common type of scams that professional scammers run. 

Fake Profile Scam

By far the most common scam on-line is the fake profile scam.

These scammers target victims by creating fake profiles on internet dating sites. Once you are in contact with a scammer they will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time.

Scammers will take months to build what seems like the romance of a lifetime. Once they have gained your trust they will ask you (either subtly or directly) for money, gifts or banking/credit card details. They will pretend to need these for a variety of reasons.

For example...

They may claim to be in the depths of a financial crisis or in need of a new computer to continue chatting with you.

The scammer may claim to have fallen ill or been involved in a serious accident (sick mothers are also a favorite ruse). They will then ask you for money to pay the medical bills. In some instances you may even be contacted by someone claiming to be their doctor.

This is one reason you should steer away from small, new, or free dating sites.  Female profiles are the life blood of the internet dating business.  If you can get profiles for 10000 hot girls you can instantly build a great site and make a lot of money, because men will find your site if the girls are hot. 

So, weak, small sites do not tend to make a huge effort to weed out the fakes.  The need profiles of hot women and if they get really desperate they will simply create profiles to stay in business.  The most extreme example of this was the Ashley Madison scandal where the company created hundreds of thousands of female profiles for it’s site, because it turned out not many women were interested in having an affair with a stranger they met online.  Go figure.  Anyhow, if you have never read anything about it this is a hilarious article that explains 99% of women’s profiles were fake.

Most the companies we promote make an effort to screen their profiles, because they realize that it would be a public relations disaster and could lead to law suits if they were simply allowing anyone to post anything.  So, they are generally fairly careful, but the two agencies that the staff here at International Love Scout know make a huge effort to vet profiles are Elena’s Models and A Foreign Affair

Visa & Airfare Scam

Another common scam is the Visa and Airfare Scam.

In this scam, after falling madly in love with you, your new flame will enthusiastically plan a trip to come visit you in your home country...

Unfortunately, she doesn't make enough money at her job so she will need you to send money for her Visa and Airfare.

If you take the bait and send the first round of money - she will then tell you that the Embassy requires her to have a minimum of $1,000 in her bank account before they will grant the Visa, so can you kindly send $1,000 which she will refund to you when she arrives at your house in Texas.

Of course after sending the money she disappears with your $1000 dollars, never to be heard from again!

The insidious thing about all of these scams is that they sound so plausible when delivered by an expert con artist. Much smarter men than you have been taken in by these scams!

How to Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams

As promised, here are 8 tips on how to protect yourself while looking for love on-line:

1.Never Send Money!

One of the biggest traps that some western men fall into is being taken advantage of for their money. While the majority of foreign women are genuine and are looking for love there is a small calculating minority that just want to wring cash out of western men.

Fortunately, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem…

Never send a girl money!

Never send any money until you have actually visited the women in her own country and you are completely satisfied that she is one hundred percent genuine in her intentions.

Even when visiting her in her country do not go tossing money around on things like lavish shopping sprees.  It can be tempting to try and win her heart by giving her money but do not fall into this trap. You don't want to attract a gold digger. 

Of course, you should pay for any dates that you go on as this is the natural role of a male in most of these countries.

2.Never Reveal Personal Information

Never reveal personal data to someone until you meet face-to-face and develop a level of trust. While it's tempting to share every detail of your life with a person you think you could be in love with, that's exactly what the scammer is counting on.

Be very wary if your new flame starts asking for your home address or what bank you use or asks for your credit card info.

I know this sounds pretty obvious but you would be surprised at the skill of these Con men (yes many are men posing as women) and their ability to wrench sensitive information out of their unsuspecting victims.

3.Spot Fake Profiles

Pay attention to both the profile picture and the user name. Of course a foreign woman will want to entrance you with her beauty but you should be wary of women that are dressed in what would be considered a sleazy manner. 

Also if their user name has a direct sexual connotations you want to beware. These are often not genuine ladies looking for love.

Many on-line scammers use a photo they've swiped from someone else's Facebook page or from a modelling website. 

Luckily there are some technologies on-line that will help you find out if that beautiful Ukrainian girl you have been communicating with is using a picture of a Russian Super Model in her dating profile.

This article will show you how to upload your potential paramour's photo to Google Image Search to see where else on-line that picture appears. Alternatively you can use a site called tineye.com - although I have found that it will give you far fewer results than Google.

4.Use Video Chat!

On most modern international dating sites you can prevent a fake profile scam by using video chat.  Anastasia is pretty much the industry leader, but Behappy2Day is another site with great video system. 

With video chat you can see the woman you are communicating with in real time.  You can even do two-way chat and let her see you.  You can ask her to blow you a kiss or wave at you if you are really paranoid that you might just be watch a pre-recorded session. 

You should be able to quickly determine that you are chatting with the same woman pictured in her profile.  That doesn’t mean she couldn’t be lying about something, but it means she looks like you expected her to look and eliminates the total fake situation. 

If the scammer has been using a fake profile picture there is no way their ruse can survive if you insist on using video chat. If the girl you have been communicating with keeps making excuses to avoid video chatting, like she can't find an internet café with a webcam, it might be time to cut your losses and move on.

The one company we represent that does not use video chat is A Foreign Affair, but that is because John Adams, the CEO, does not believe in chat.  He thinks after the first couple of letters or chats you should try to meet the woman.  So, AFA’s main business is romance tours where you actually get meet women face to face. 

5.Use a Legit International Dating Agency

Scammers are a bigger problem on free sites.  It is estimated that 50% of all women on free sites are running some sort of scam.

These dating agencies know that unhappy customers can destroy their business in a hurry. The top agencies have extremely strong economic incentives to be sure that you are NOT scammed, so if you use a legit agency your chances of running across a fake profile scammer are slim to none.

A Quick Note About Agency Scams:

If you frequent international dating message boards and chat rooms it's pretty common to see guys complaining that they have been scammed by a dating agency.

I'm sure some of them have a legitimate complaint, but many of them just failed to read the fine print before they joined up.

The level of service varies widely among agencies and one of the main reasons some men believe they have been scammed is that they did not fully understand what the agency was offering. 

Sites like Amolatina.com do a poor job of letting you know how much it will ultimately cost to communicate with those gorgeous Colombian women.  So, when the chat fees start to add up guys scream foul. 

Don't get me wrong - the profiles are real and many men have met and married beautiful Latin women through the site. But they have an aggressive business model where they try to get men to spend more than they intend and they are pretty successful because they have some of the sexiest Latin women you could ever imagine. 

With any agency, be careful and budget your spending.

6.Check Out Scammer Databases

Be aware, there are some scammers trolling the dating sites who are REAL women using REAL pictures in their dating profiles. This makes these types of scammers much harder to spot than the basic Fake Profile Scammer.

On many of the big global dating sites these women get shut down pretty quickly because of complaints from the male customers. But, if you are using a free site you will need to take matters into your own hands.

Luckily there are several sites on-line that have posted photos and details about hundreds of known internet dating scam "personalities". If you think you are communicating with a scammer you can go to one of these sites and look for her picture in their database.

7.Be Realistic About What Constitutes a Scam

Realize that there is a difference between getting scammed by a girl and getting your heart broken. Even under the best of circumstances most relationships don't develop into passionate lifelong love affairs.

If a girl decides she is not interested in dating you that is not the same thing as being scammed.

Many men who don't find the great love of their life through an international dating site often decide they've been scammed. The truth is, as long as the lady, the agency and the man were all acting in good faith no one scammed anyone.

Like the old saying goes – “You can't buy love” and it is impossible to control exactly how people will mesh with one another.

8.Use Your Common Sense

The best tool you have in your arsenal to fight on-line scammers is your brain...  Use it!

If a girl ask you to do something that seems strange, like send her money for a plane ticket or reveal personal banking information...

Cut your losses and move on!

If you are a 75-year-old guy and some super-hot Brazilian bikini model professes her undying love to you after 2 conversations - be suspicious.  This article from CBS News has some really good points about the need to think critically about what people tell you on a dating site.

Scams are a real concern, but they shouldn't make you spend the rest of your life avoiding beautiful women and the internet.  If you show a little good sense you can reduce your risk and still meet some of the most amazing women in the world. 

It's not a bad deal.

green card scam

Should You Worry about Green Card Scams?

As we have already stated above the most recent academic research has proven that the vast majority of these women are not simply trying to marry so they can move to a more financially stable country and get a green card, or permanent residency, before filing for divorce.

Furthermore, your home country protects you from yourself to a certain extent. In most countries it is not possible for a woman to simply marry you and have full residency rights. If you marry abroad it will take between six to nine months for the process to be completed. This will provide you with plenty of time to decide whether the marriage is right for you.

If you are a US resident your fiancé can enter the country on the K-1 Fiancée visa. The visa is valid for ninety days before the marriage needs to take place.

Use this time to get to know the women that you intend to marry. Remember that if you feel that the connection is not there or something is not quite right about the relationship don't be afraid to end the process.

The K-1 Fiancée visa requirements are there to protect you and so make sure that you are not being taken advantage of. While someone may be able to hide their true self for a few days it will be very difficult to maintain a facade for three months.

There are plenty more fish in the sea so don't be swayed by your fiancées beauty. If the relationship does not feel right then simply try again.

Privacy And Online Dating

One of the biggest questions that guys are concerned about is their privacy.  We cover this in our reviews, but essentially the safest agencies use reputable third party payment processors, so they never see your credit card information, and are based in the US, the EU, Australia, or another country with a strong criminal justice system. 

Generally, those two things vastly reduce your worries about privacy.

However, if you are really obsessive we suggest that you create a free Yahoo or Hotmail account that you devote solely to your mail order bride adventure.  That way you don't even have to worry about spam.

Honestly, most of the staff here are signed up with numerous sites, far more than just the ones we review, and frankly the emails are manageable.  There are several sites that I know we will never review on ILS, but I still like seeing their new profiles and who they have matched me too.

The free sign-ups, which nearly every site offers, really are a great way to decide if you really want to go with a particular site and I highly recommend it because there is no downside. Also, some of the sites run specials particularly for the people that are already signed up as free members, so that can be helpful too.

The Conclusions About Dating Scams

You should take care of yourself online, but the odds of getting scammed in an international dating site are probably about the same as getting scammed on another dating site or getting conned by a woman you meet in the grocery store or at your local bar.

These fears of being ripped off are preyed upon by mainstream media which hypes and over sensationalizes stories of ill-fated foreign love affairs with the purpose of selling more newspapers and television ad space.

In reality the danger of fraud is not nearly the monster the news makes it out to be nor is it complicated to spot and avoid. The vast majority of the foreign women who are looking to date and marry men from other countries are honest ladies with sincere intentions. 

They are looking for love, friendship and affection just like you guys are.

Yes, you could get scammed, but if you use a little common sense and follow the tips laid out below the chances are pretty slim. 

If you want more information about online dating scams this article by the Better Business Bureau is the best single resource available.  However, as you will see it focus almost exclusively on domestic sites which might even be easier to manipulate than international dating sites. 

This article from Consumer Reports offers some of the same ideas to protect yourself as we have mentioned, but it is also a high quality resource. 

Here at International Love Scout we have researched each site we feature girls from to ensure, to the best of our ability, that the sites are fair to your wallet and your heart. We don’t feature sites that we believe are scams.

We give the straight scoop on scammers, players, and shady operators, and explain our approach to helping you find the love of your life.