Internet Dating Scams
Dating scams are something that everyone using an Internet
dating service needs to know about. Normally the dating scams
are certainly not perpetrated by the companies offering Internet
dating but by some of the individuals using the services.
Just how some individuals use Internet dating services for
their own deceptive ends will be discussed, but first some
important points about dating companies and supposed scams.
It is reasonable to argue that the big successful Internet
dating services would not be in business for very long if
they perpetrated scams upon their customers, as a tiny few
have claimed here and there on the Internet. In any large
business, online or off, there will always be a few dissatisfied
customers for whatever reason (e.g. customers who do not read
the details of what they are purchasing; or genuine errors
made by computing systems that can be put right with a little
That is the nature of business because very large numbers
of customers, employees and systems are involved. A small
minority of dissatisfied customers may cry scam solely in
order to express their annoyance. To complain is one thing,
to cry scam with no evidence is quite another.
There was one recent case, for example, in which a customer
of a large Internet dating service was fooled into visiting
a second party web site by someone he encountered on a dating
site. At the second party site he was sent to, he parted with
his financial details and was robbed. He then complained bitterly
that the large Internet dating service was a scam. Clearly
this is not a reasonable conclusion to reach: he was scammed
by an individual member of the dating service, not by the
This is an important distinction. If you are conned by someone
you meet in a bar you would not be justified in claiming that
the bar owners were perpetrating a scam, not unless they knew
about and condoned the scammer's actions.
Any Internet dating service that is open to all will be used
by scammers as well as by genuine users. It is learning to
distinguish between who is genuine and who is not, that is
important. Conmen and scam artists do not only operate online
but in the real world too. At least online you usually have
time to consider a situation carefully before you act. Many
would argue that Internet dating allows you greater scope
to avoid scams and criminals than offline dating.
Sometimes too, large Internet dating companies are accused
of spamming, or sending unsolicited commercial email (see
our definitions of this here: Spam
Notes). Usually it is not the dating companies that are
engaged in this illegal activity but a minority of their affiliates.
Naturally such aberrant affiliates do not identify themselves
in their emails but hide behind (and so try to implicate)
the companies they are promoting. This applies across the
board, not just in Internet dating.
Most Internet dating services have a strict rule that affiliates
caught spamming will be dismissed without being paid. But
that does not stop some individuals doing it anyway until
they are caught. This can sometimes give the companies they
are promoting unfair bad press.
One of the Internet dating companies we promote on this site
This company does not allow its affiliates to send any email
at all that promotes its service, thereby going a step further
even than banning spam email.
Affiliate marketing itself is a legitimate form of marketing
that is widespread and commonplace on the Internet, being
one of the main forms of marketing online. Big companies down
to small businesses and individuals do business online through
affiliate marketing. Sometimes people complain about affiliates
of Internet dating companies (and those of other kinds of
online companies), saying that they represent themselves as
the merchant site. This also is clearly against PenPalsPlanet's
SingleDating.com has always made it clear that it is an Internet
Dating Sites affiliate. We state this in our terms of service
and say on our home page that we may gain commission if services
are purchased through our links. (BTW, this does not alter
the amount the customer pays in any way, regardless of where
the customer purchases).
Some affiliate web sites about dating make claims about the
services they are promoting being 'free', while others say
it is free to register but do not mention that the member
must pay to subscribe and send emails to singles that interest
them. (Context: most dating service companies offer a limited
free option and a paid service that enables customers to contact
singles). SingleDating.com has consistently made it clear
throughout this site that although it is free to register,
to search and use the services in a limited way, a paid subscription
must be purchased to pro-actively email the singles.
Internet Dating Scams by Members
Turning now to members of Internet dating sites who have
only signed up only in order to scam other users and what
to watch out for in order to avoid being taken in.
Firstly, when you receive a response to your Internet dating
ad or profile, look carefully at whether it talks about things
actually in your profile and does not speak generally. If
this is the case it would suggest that your profile has not
actually been read and responded to, but simply a generic
reply has been sent to any number of profile writers, an early
potential indicator of a scam.
Take a careful look at the photo of any Internet profile
you are interested in. Does the image look like a photo of
a model, perfectly lit and arranged? Could be that it is,
and that the writer of the ad has not used their own image
but simply lifted one from another site somewhere. This should
at the very least set the alarm bells ringing.
Perhaps most Internet dating scams are perpetrated by overseas
scammers. They may even engage the innocent single in long-term
communication before asking for money for a visa, travel or
whatever. Sometimes someone who presents themselves as an
intermediary will contact you, claiming that the person you
are interested in does not speak your language, then sting
you for expensive translation services.
With any Internet conversation you should pay close attention
to the details and remain vigilant for the possibilities of
a dating scam at work. Is there something that doesn't ring
true? Is the other person constantly evasive when asked questions?
Finally, be aware of Internet Dating Scams but don't let
them put you off online dating. Millions of genuine singles
do use these sites and they do get together as a result of
these sites. You wouldn't be put off offline dating through
fear of scammers, would you? Yet they exist in offline dating
too. Be vigilant, be sensible, but at the same time have fun.
3 Online Dating Scams
to Watch Out For