Long-Distance Relationship Scams: How to Avoid Being Conned

Daters beware of relationship frauds

Finding love online can be very fulfilling. After weeks, months, or even years of searching, you finally have something to show for all the hard work.

But long-distance dating can be very challenging too, and one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is knowing who you can trust.

It has become an issue because there are so many scams out there. This makes online dating feel more like a dance through an active minefield rather than a journey to finding love.

To help you protect yourself, we’ve listed the five most common long-distance relationship scams and tips on how to keep yourself safe.

5 common LDR scams & relationship frauds

1. The ‘I’m in trouble, please send me some money’ scam

It is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to dating someone online long distance, and here’s how it goes:

It usually starts innocently – you meet someone online, they are the picture of perfection, and they tick every box you have. As can be expected in such accelerated situations, falling in love is more or less inevitable.

Then one day, she/he calls telling you of some devastating experience. It could be anything from a sudden illness or the death of a loved one to frozen accounts.

They then proceed to ask you for financial assistance to help get them out of the tricky situation.

The worst thing about this scam is that you never know who is genuinely in need and who is just using you. The best way to protect yourself is by taking the skeptical route and refusing to help.

This is one of top safety tips, too: never send money to someone you don’t know personally. It might go against your conscience, but it is for your own good.

2. The always-unavailable-for-video-call scam

One of the best ways to verify the identity of someone you are speaking to online is by setting up a video call. It is actually the only way to know whether the person is who they say they are (and whether they are as attractive in real life as they are in those photos).

One common scam related to this scenario is when your online partner claims to be unavailable every time you want to make a video call. The excuses range from poor internet connection to a lack of webcams.

If your new LDR partner is all elusive in this manner, then you might want to consider moving on because there is something fishy there.

3. Good old catfishing

This scam is in a lot of ways related to the ‘unavailable for video call’ scam.

However, there is so much more to catfish scams than fake physical identities:

Sometimes, the person will lie about their whole life while using their real pictures and allowing video interaction. You might think you are speaking to a college-educated business person while in real life they are an unemployed ex-convict.

This type of scam is common, and you need to be willing to ask all the hard questions needed to verify that the person is who they claim to be.

4. The blackmail scam

When dating someone whom you have never met, it is always important to hold back on revealing sensitive information. The most important here is sharing sexually suggestive material.

At all costs, avoid sending nude photos or videos to someone you haven’t met in real life. It is a real concern because there is a new trend of sexual blackmail cropping up in the international online dating and loving community.

In this scenario, the person you are dating demands money in exchange for not making your sensitive photos and other information public.

5. The physical visit scam

This scam is another popular way that long-distance relationship scammers use to get money from unsuspecting singles, also known as the romance scam.

You meet someone amazing online, and they are dying to meet you. However, they claim that they cannot afford travel expenses and would like your help.

What happens in such cases is that after you send the money, some sudden complication comes up that stops them from visiting. Afterward, there is a big chance that you will not hear from them again.

How to avoid being conned in a relationship

Now, don’t let this scare you off your journey to finding true love. Despite there being so many scams in the online dating scene, you are not completely helpless.

You just have to be vigilant and smart about how you approach matters on and off the platform. To help make things a little easier for you, here are six foolproof tips to protect yourself from being conned in a relationship.

1. Insist on identity confirmation

If you are on a reputable dating platform with identity verification programs, this might not be something you have to worry about. However, it is also always a good idea, whether or not these policies exist on the site, to do some of the digging yourself.

Don’t worry, you do not have to turn into a cyber-whiz Sherlock Holmes type hacking the system and confirming your love interest’s personality. Just ask for a video call.

2. Do not divulge sensitive information

Nothing beats the warm fuzzies and emotional safe space created by finding a great connection online. You feel like you have known these people your whole life and that you can tell them anything.

That is probably not the best idea. Leave out sensitive information, including your address, financial details and basically anything that can be used to extort you. At least until you are sure you can trust this person.

3. Resist the urge to be philanthropist of the year

It doesn’t matter what sob story it is that they fed you whether it is a dead relative or missed rent payment. I know it will be hard, but more often than not, these are pity traps set by online dating platform fraudsters. Be particularly wary if someone straight-up asks for the money or subtly hints at the desire for financial help early in the relationship. 

4. Don’t ignore the first red flags

Sometimes, scammers will slip up and reveal a glimpse into who they really are. These red flags come in all forms from shady comments during your conversation to outright gaslighting.

If anything sparks your spidey senses, do not ignore it. Explore and get to the bottom of it. If you are dealing with a faker, you will definitely save yourself a lot of trouble down the line.

5. Try saying “no” every once in a while, and see how they react

Scammers do not take the answer ‘no’ very nicely. They will respond in extreme ways, including throwing tantrums, trying to manipulate you, and so on.

So, next time he asks for money or requests something you find uncomfortable, try and say no and wait to see what happens.

If they stick around and drop it, then you are probably dealing with the real deal. However, if they react unusually or completely disappear then you might just have dodged a bullet.

6. Don’t be too quick to fall in love

One of the best ways to protect yourself from long-distance online dating scams is by taking things slow. The thing is that a lot of these con artists want quick payouts and may not stick around too long to listen to your kindergarten horror stories or your dreams and aspirations.

And if they do actually make it that far, taking your time will help you get to know the person better and pick out any red flags you may have missed earlier on when you saw everything through rose-colored lenses.

Bottom line

With all this information, it should be easier for you to avoid getting scammed. However, do not let this reality water down your hopes of finding love online.

There are many good guys and girls out there genuinely looking for love. So wear your heart on your sleeve without any shame or hesitation.

Just make sure also to guard it fiercely and give it to none but the most deserving out there.

February 20, 2020