Wham. Bam. It's a Scam.
You've seen this guy. He’s super hot. His bio is all about sports and cars and other manly sounding stuff. Something is odd though - he only has one picture on his profile. Why doesn’t he flaunt himself more? I mean I would if I looked like him.
My friend you have met a scammer.
- Usually one picture of a ridiculously hot guy.
- They have a young daughter or son.
- Their parents are dead, or if alive, they are astranged.
- They are in the US military
- Suddenly get deployed within a few days of talking to you and will be gone for a few months.
- They are stationed in West Africa.
- They never want to talk on the phone. They will tell you that the military doesn’t allow personal calls and they are taking a risk even chatting with you online.
- They want to switch to Skype, KIK or some other platform “for easier communication”.
No. Just no.
Unfortunately, people will fall for this scam. They’ll fall deeply in love with a person they have never met or talked to on the phone. Finally when the day comes for them to meet up, the scammer will be in some tragic accident and in desperate need to have money wired. The victim will be convinced that they are the only ones who can help because, after all, he no longer has family and he has a young child he has to take care of.
My first encounter with a scammer.
We had both viewed each other's profiles and I sat there hoping he would send me a message. A few moments later, I had a new message. It was him. We began chatting and I was intrigued by his story. He was originally from Oregon, had joined the US military at 25 and was currently stationed in the West Africa area. This guy had a 4 year old daughter, and her mom had died while giving birth to her. She was staying with her grandmother while he was deployed. His parents met when his dad, who also had been in the US military, was stationed in Spain. His mom was from Spain. They fell in love, got married and moved to Oregon, where my guy was born a few years later. He was now 35.
I do not do long distance relationships. I told him this, and he assured me that it would be okay, because his deployment was ending in a month and he'll come visit me, so we can meet in person and see where it goes from there.
He asked if we could move off of the dating app and chat in another messaging app. We decided on Viber and began texting there. We messaged for about a week, but in the back of my head I had some suspicions.
Every picture he sent of himself looked slightly like a different person.
It was hard to tell though, because sometimes he'd be wearing sunglasses or his military fatigues or a hat or be in a group picture.
So, instead of asking about the pictures, I started asking to video chat. He kept coming up with excuses for why he couldn't do that, until I told him that I don't want to talk to him anymore until we do. That lit a fire under him and he agreed on a time the following day.
It came time to do the video call. He was nowhere to be found. Finally, I received a message from him asking to give him 5 minutes and he'll call me. I was all ready when the call came through. As soon as he answered and said, "Hello. How are you?", I knew my suspicions were correct. Mind you, this is supposed to be a White guy from Oregon. He should have an American accent, right? But not this guy.
He had a full on African accent.
Not only was his accent the wrong one, but he did not display his face when I answered the video. I immediately turned my camera view off and asked why I couldn't see him. He said there was something wrong with his camera and he'll have to call me back.
He never video called, but he did message me later that evening. I just played along and said how much I was looking forward to seeing him over video and that we should try again. I eventually gave him an ultimatum, that if that can't happen tonight, then we should stop talking all together.
Then the switch happened.
He started telling me how much he loved me. How special I was to him and how much I meant to him. How it is so lonely being deployed and I'm being selfish for ending our "relationship" so quickly. I told him stop talking to me and he wouldn't so I blocked him.
Later that week I learned about reverse image searching.
You can take a picture, run it through the reverse image search engine and it will tell you if there are any matches anywhere out there on the internet. I searched 5 of the pictures. What do you know? I got results. One of the pictures was from a US military website. Four of them were from various dating profiles - two pictures each of two different guys!
This is why you're single:
- People are out there looking to scam you…
- You ignore the warning signs…
- You fall hard for someone you have not met in person…
Online dating is convenient, but you have to be careful. If something doesn’t make sense, it’s most likely because something is wrong. Now when I suspect something is off, I will ask people to send specific pictures of themselves. My message usually goes something like this - Online dating is a crazy world, so let's have some fun. Take a picture of you holding a peace sign with your left hand while holding something red in your right hand.
I have never received a picture back.
I enjoy reading about your stories. Tell me about the scammers you have encountered in the comments below.