Advice Column: Dating Websites

Thursday 22nd February 2024

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on dating website scams.

I recently joined a dating website. I was contacted by a lovely man and we started to exchange messages. We now email every day, although we haven’t met in person yet. We had arranged to go for a meal, but then he cancelled because he needs to concentrate on fundraising for his daughter – the medicines she needs aren’t available on the NHS. He’s asked me to contribute, his daughter needs treatment urgently. He’s given me details of a bank account to pay into. I want to help, but I’m unsure because I’ve only known him a short time.

You’re right to be cautious. Unfortunately dating sites are increasingly being targeted by unscrupulous people. It can be difficult to accept that someone you’ve developed feelings for is trying to swindle you. But scammers can be highly skilled at using emotional triggers to persuade people to part with money, or with personal information that might make victims vulnerable to identity theft.

Your friend may be completely genuine but try to find out if he’s really who he says he is. A reluctance to call you or Skype, or profile information such as educational achievements not matching the content of his messages, could be a red flag that this is a scam.

Other things to look out for include expressing strong emotions in a short period of time, moving the conversation away from the dating site and onto a private channel such as email or instant messaging and asking lots of personal questions – but giving away very little in return.

Trust your instincts and if in any doubt, don’t part with your money. For further help on identifying possible scams call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk