Police Warn Residents to Be Safe While Using Online Dating Sites and Apps


It's a big world out there these days, yet things are moving so fast it's hard for any of us to nail down meaningful relationships through our immediate social circles.

Dating apps were supposed to be a way to alleviate that problem. Popular online dating platforms such as eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Bumble, Tinder, and Grindr have become commonplace.

But with such relatively easy access to such dating sources, police are warning people how criminals have now found ways to con or harm users who go in searching for love online.

These romance scams have costed some people thousands—and sometimes even tens of thousands—of dollars.

"Many dating scams work by setting up fake dating profiles. The offender will try to keep you invested by continually sending you emails filled with talks of love and a desire to build a future with you. After they have sent you a few messages you will be asked to send money to help them out," the police say.

Here are some initial warning signs that a scam may be brewing. Be wary if the other person:

  • Says they love you after a short period of time, despite never having met you.

  • Lives in a foreign country and wants financial assistance to come see you.

  • Asks for money and presents emergency or urgent reasons (such as a family illness) for needing it.

  • Wants you to make large money transfers to countries in Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe.

  • Makes promises of large sums of money you will receive if you pay taxes or a wiring fee.

Through all the apps previously described, there's always some messaging function that allows you to communicate directly with specific prospects. Here are some tips when it comes to online messaging:

  • Check website addresses carefully as criminals often set up fake websites with very similar addresses to legitimate dating sites.

  • Never send money or give credit card details to anyone you don’t know and trust.

  • Limit the personal information you give out.

  • Make sure you only use reputable dating sites.

  • Beware of someone you’ve never met who wants you to wire money to a place outside of Canada.

And finally, when do you succeed in setting up a face to face encounter, here are six safety tips for meeting your online date in the flesh:

  • Tell someone where you’re going, who with and when you should be back home.

  • Avoid giving out your address, and don’t meet at your residence for the first time.

  • Don’t get in a stranger’s vehicle; meet them at a public place (like a coffee shop or a restaurant) and arrange for your own ride to and from the date.

  • Stay sober and aware. If you do drink, never leave your drink unattended, not even with your date.

  • Move beyond messaging through the website and/or app. Know the person’s cell or home phone number, know the person’s real full name (not just their first name or username), and talk to them by phone to arrange the date.

  • Be aware that the person you’re meeting may not be the person they said they were in their profile (most of us know this as 'Catfishing').

As a new year dawns, some of us may be looking to start fresh and meet someone new. But it's always a helpful reminder to stay safe and know what you're getting yourself into when the time comes.

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