Spotting red flags with online scams

Posted on 10 Feb, 2012 | Play Magazine


Online scams are on the rise in Singapore as more and more facets of living get wired. Not only is online shopping getting tainted with scams, another area that where people are duped is when the go on the quest for true love. When you try going digital in the quest for love, be ready to enter a battle field. If in case you have decided to explore online dating then better arm yourself with ways of spotting a scammer right off the bat as dating websites cannot truly prevent scammers from availing of its free registration or its membership packages. 

Cherry Tan (not her real name) decided to start the year right by registering on a popular dating site with branches across the world including Singapore. After a day she received emails and in turn replied to several male prospects. Her dating experience took an ugly turn when the Valentine date she was preparing for turned out to be no other than a conman out to milk her of her dollars. 

How did she find out before it was too late? Cherry had enough common sense detect that something was fishy. This gut-feel saved her and her dollars as she was able to sort out her situation eventually. Here is a list of her red flags:

Red flag 1 Unverifiable identity

Red flags are these odd requests or bits of information that just don’t jive with the overall image of the guy. At the start, the conman had limited photos to share and the excuse was that the photos were in a different computer, etc. He has no other friends in FB aside from you. When he offers stories about himself, he rarely mentions other names of friends. Most of the time he would pass himself off as a loner and does not specify a lot of names save a few, like a daughter or mother.   This spares the conman from remembering all the fake names of his friends and family. 

Red flag 2 Inconsistent Details, Odd Accent Vague, Not enough Details

Don’t get excited if he says he the airline company will send a copy of his plane ticket in case he has claimed that he is visiting you. Check the email regardless if it is British Airways or some other prestigious airlines. For sure it has no booking number. It is merely a copy of the inquiry regarding a flight with his name and your email address.  

He might have mentioned some four-star hotel where he is booked while visiting you. But at the time he is already asking for money to be sent to him through Western Union, he would give you a fake  address of some budget hotel in his area. How could he afford Fullerton later but is said to be billeted in some hostel?

Be warned that for someone who wants to continue communications, why then is there no camera on his/her computer? All laptops have built in cameras and externals are cheap and easy to buy. It becomes a one-way street where in he/she sees you but you can’t see her/him. Perhaps he/she is hiding something. They are now what they claim to be, they are not located in the country or city they say they were chatting with you.

Another warning bell that should go ringing is when you can’t seem to send SMS messages. He/she claims that his/her hand phone could not support text messaging. That is an outright lie as there is no mobile phone or the service provider in the world which has this limitation.

Red flag 3 Request for a new password

At one point during your email correspondence, it could be that you receive notification from Facebook that you requested for a new password. Take note, only people determined to log in would request for a new password. This has never happened to you before and have not requested it. This odd notification only happened after you met him online.

Red flag 4 Easy on the Love

Within a week of meeting him online, he is so ready to say the sweet things you expect your lover to say. He starts and ends your chats, emails and calls with “I love you”. How could that happen overnight? No decent guy out to have a serious long-term relationship claim this? Relationships built on genuine love and affection don’t start out with too much sweet endearments and i-love-yous.

Red flag 5 He asks for money.

This should be at the top as this is the surest way you can delete Romeo from your potential spouse list. A man out to win your heart to spend the rest of his life would not ask or demand money from you no matter what sob story he/she has.  Don’t get confused, there should be no exchange of money in any relationship at this “dating” stage.

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