I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Out of curiosity and because things weren’t working out with the BF, I signed up on two online dating sites in the past year and discovered that the number of love-frauds and scammers out there is just mind-boggling!
Since recent media reported many cases of women getting conned on online dating sites, I decided to ink down some of my experiences. If it helps someone weed out the fakers and save her some heartache, my excruciating online dating experience wouldn’t be in vain.
First of all, choose a guy who lives in your own country because after all, you want to be able to meet this person, look into his eyes and hold his hand. And if he says that he is actually overseas when he is supposed to live here, then you have caught him out on THE BIG LIE. Don’t be stupid – drop him like a hot brick NOW, Girl!
If he passes this first test or you take your chances on a guy who lives overseas, then maybe these next few pearls of wisdom will help. How do I know all of this? Because I’ve met them all, my dearies.
1) Weed out the Most Obvious fakes – the ones with really bad English (so I’m a language snob, shoot me), the ones who extol how beautiful you are and how they are so in love with you already in their first email (gag), and the ones who are only asking for sex (ick).
2) Never trust that who you see is who you get. If a paedophile can pretend to be a 14-year-old girl online, then any of these guys you see can be someone else. Many scammers use other people’s online photos in their fake profiles and if the guy looks like an absolute hunk, ask yourself this – why would he really need to hunt for love online much less in another country?
3) ‘Wink’ or send feeler emails out to those who catch your eye. And of those who answer, delete those who will not share about themselves but would instead only praise the beauty of your toes and ask you only for more details about yourself. This ploy endears the woman to them because they appear to be good listeners and seem very caring.
4) Ask about his job – what exactly he does, who he has to deal with, why he chose such a job. Very often these guys are listed as Engineers (usually oil and gas engineers because they think women don’t know much about it, duh!) and other technical careers. If he can’t give details about his job then he probably doesn’t know much about it either, so hit the panic button (Danger, Will Robinson!).
5) Scammers usually use a Yahoo email account or yahoo chat. I’m not sure entirely why, but I suspect that Yahoo does not track new account holders as much as Gmail or Hotmail.
6) Beware of UK phone numbers. If he asks for your contact number, ask him to give you one first. It is easy to apply for a UK telephone number online so many scammers usually say they live there and will give you a UK number. If you can trust your ability to distinguish accents, call him from a secure line and listen to how he speaks, not what he says. Some of the guys I called had rather dubious British accents, including one who claimed to be Canadian! The rest had fake accents, with the majority sounding like Nigerians trying to sound Brit, I kid you not!
7) Overseas chappies will also say they don’t have webcams. This prevents you from actually seeing that they are nothing like their online profile pictures. They will ask you for more pictures of yourself – don’t do it as this is also one way scammers get access to more pictures to create more fake profiles.
Most of these guys will have some kind of sob story to get your sympathy. I got these – widowed and left with a beloved young daughter; cheated on and with a sick mother; and my personal favourite – a tragic accident that killed his kid who turned out not to be his kid because his ex-wife had been cheating on him. The stories are endless. It helps when some scammers try juggling too many targets at a time. ..
The Canadian-widower-with-a-beloved-daughter sent me an email meant for someone else called Sammie then forwarded me the exact same email with the ‘Dear ….’ name changed. Ha! You should’ve seen the back pedalling he did after that. I was giggling with glee all night. It is vindicating to have suspicions confirmed, but you won’t always have that luxury.
The Cheated-on-with-sick-mum guy “travelled” to Nigeria (alarm bells!) and while there, ran into some problems transferring some money for an urgent operation for his mum, asked if I could help. Pfft. Riiiight. And what urgent op did she need? A cataract operation. Sigh. Do your homework mister.
When I told Guy-with-dead-kid-who-wasn’t-his-kid that I was planning to come to Perth to visit him, he quickly arranged for a “work trip” to another town to bid for a project and found himself short of $11,000 for an orientation course. DING DING DING!!! Jackpot — another major loser.
I am not saying online dating is a complete failure because my search did throw up a couple of possibilities who are here, and who are willing to meet up. Meeting up face-to-face really helps you determine whether you could start something, whether this will be a new friend for you, or if this is a complete lost cause.
If you think that I am perhaps some embittered cynical chick, my friends will tell you they actually think I am too trusting and open-minded. Why do we put ourselves through this rigmarole? Sigh, maybe it is because our social circles are too closed to reveal new friendships. Maybe it is because we just aren’t the social animals we used to be. Maybe we are afraid to step out of our comfort zones. Whatever happens, don’t go online when you are vulnerable.
Go in with eyes open, a healthy dose of scepticism, and a truckload of common sense.
And because I am always such an optimistic romantic fool, I still believe there’s someone out there who’s just right for me, and for you! Happy and Safe Hunting!
Metamorphoenix is an over-40 full-figured newly-divorced sister searching for a happy life. It’s sometimes painful, sometimes funny, sometimes ridiculous … but always from the heart.