Dating fraud: protect your heart and your bank account
Swipe left! Scammers use dating apps or websites to persuade their victims to give them money.
How dating fraud works
Yvonne had not met him in person yet. After a month of intense e-mailing and a few romantic phone calls, her “friend”, who said he was the manager of a South American oil platform, promised to fly over to meet her in person. Before he actually did this, however, he asked her to transfer a substantial sum of money for an operation urgently needed by his daughter. Yvonne happily sent her new lover the 18,000 euros he asked for. Shortly after, her “friend” asked her to transfer another sum.
Yvonne is not the only person to fall victim to dating fraud in Belgium. The number of victims continues to rise, and the amounts lost are enormous in some cases. After these criminals have won the confidence of their victims (this can take weeks or even months), they try to persuade them to transfer money to them. This often happens through money transfer services that are difficult to trace in Belgium (e.g. Western Union).
Be cautious when you meet people on the internet or through a mobile app
Here are a few of the warning signs you should watch out for when you start talking to someone on a dating platform.
- Scammers will ask you for money or the number of your debit or credit card. Never give your personal data to someone you have not met in person. Be cautious if they tell you sad stories.
- It is safer to communicate only in the dating app’s chat box. Dating fraudsters will quickly tell you that they are in love with you and attempt to coerce you into continuing your communication with them via a private channel such as by telephone or email or through instant messaging platforms (e.g. WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal).
- Check someone’s profile or profile photo if you are in doubt about their authenticity. Use a search robot to see of this person’s profile photo is linked to a different name or other details that do not correspond to what you were told. You can easily conduct a query like this by searching for an image on Google. Find out if this person has a profile on other social media platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Was the profile created only recently? Does he have hardly any friends? All of this can point to this being a fraudulent profile.
- Most dating apps employ a strict security policy and take all the measures needed to guarantee the safety of their users to the greatest extent possible. They perform security checks upon registration and closely examine any suspicious profiles. Some apps (such as Lexa and Parship) feature a 'Safe dating quality mark'. This shows you right away whether a certain app is safe to use or not. Nevertheless, it is imperative that you remain alert to fraudulent dating profiles. Find more information about dating scammers (on Parship), tips about online safety (on Tinder) and guidelines for safe dating (on Meetic).
Are you a victim of dating fraud?
- Eliminate all contact with this person.
- Make a note of the profile, the telephone number or the alias on the dating site and inform the dating site of the fraud.
- Have you given this person your debit or credit card details? Have your cards blocked immediately. Call Card Stop straight away on +32 78 170 170.
- Contact your bank as soon as possible.