Romance scams

The scam

A fraudster on an online dating site pretends to be someone looking for love but is really only looking for ways to take your money.


So you've met someone special online. You've exchanged love notes for weeks now. But a part of you wonders if your new love is just too good to be true. How can you be sure they're a sweetheart? Believe it or not, you have the power to spot romance scammers.

Scammers look like charmers on real dating sites until they start asking you for money or financial details. Some scammers even create fake dating sites that look free. Then suddenly fees are popping up everywhere.

Remember: never send money or personal information to anyone on a dating site. And be sure to trust your instincts, read the fine print and ask a lot of questions. Why? Because it might be too good to be true.

And with knowledge, you can beat the scammers at their own game, and get back to finding real love.

Video length: 1 minute, 14 seconds

How it works

The scammer sends you a few messages and a good-looking photo of themselves, or of someone they claim to be. Once you are charmed, they start asking you to send money or financial details. They may claim to have a very sick family member or a desperate situation with which they need your help. Once you give them money, they often disappear.

A fraudster can also create a fake dating site where you pay for each message you send and receive. To keep you writing back and paying, the scammer may hook you in with vague emails about their love and desire for you.

In many cases, the scammer may even arrange to meet up with you in person to make their fraud seem more credible.

How to spot it

Keep your guard up and look out for potential scammers who will try to lower your defences by appealing to your romantic and compassionate side.

Protect yourself

  • Never send money or give financial details on a dating site.
  • Trust your instincts; ask many questions and carefully read the terms and conditions before signing up.
  • Know which services on a dating site are free, which ones cost money, and what it takes to cancel your account.
  • Make sure you use only legitimate and reputable dating sites. Always check website addresses carefully, as scammers often mimic real web addresses.
  • Remember that it’s very unlikely that someone will declare their undying love to anyone after only a few letters, emails, phone calls or pictures.

Further reading