Dating guide: How to spot online dating scammers.

If you have used a dating site in the past, it is likely you have come across a dating site scammer at some point. If you haven't, you are either very lucky or maybe they were not uncovered by you at the time. You may even have been conned into sending a scammer hundreds or thousands of hard earned dollars, never hearing from them again.

A dating site scammer is a person who may contact you in order to obtain money. They will use a false name, age, country of birth, occupation and most cunningly, they will have a misleading purpose for contacting you. They will appear sweet, caring and in-need of your help.

Dating sites are very prone to dating site scammers. Generally they will prey on people who are prepared to "open their heart" to the scammer, often being "sucked into" the scammers lie. The ultimate goal of their lies is to receive money from you - often in large quantities.

As the operator of the dating site Pricelesspartner.com, I have come across every story, every username, every lie that a scammer could possibly think of. I thought it would be useful to share my knowledge of dating site scammers and to write a "How To Avoid" guide to dating site scammers in the hope that it may save you both time, possibly money and give you a more enjoyable online experience on dating sites.

In no particular order, here is a list of what to look out for when dating online.

The Email Address

From my experience, the most popular email service used by dating site scammers is Yahoo! Mail. At present very few scammers use Hotmail or Gmail, although they are both not immune from being used as scamming email addresses.

The email address will often contain a username similar to their registered dating site username. See below.

The Username

The next most obvious sign of a dating site scammer will be his or her username.

Generally, their username will consist of love related or relationship related terms. Common terms include 'luv' or 'love' or 'real' in combination with a common generic name such as 'Bob' or 'Jane' or 'Jennifer' etc.

Often the username will also contain a string of numbers at the end, perhaps helping them exhaust a range of memberships or registrations with a site. For example 'Bob4real' may have '001' at the end.

Here is a tiny sample of random usernames I have rejected:

Jennifer4real

Vivian001

Bobtrueluv

Luv4real

Jennifer_brown03

Lovely2000

Honest005

God_fearing_001

plus thousands of variations of the above, and more.

The Description

The personality description used by the dating site scammer is probably the biggest giveaway and sometimes the most humorous (when you have gone through thousands of profile registrations like I have, you need to have the odd giggle here and there).

Most commonly, the dating site scammer will use the following phrases or word combinations in their personality description:

They either live in a common scamming country or region (Nigeria, Senegal, and Russia) or they will state they were originally born in the USA, London, Australia etc and are currently living in Nigeria, Senegal, and Russia etc.

They will start a sentence with "Am" eg. "Am Jennifer Smith by name…"

States they are god fearing, or have the fear of god in them.

The dating site scammer will describe themselves as "real, honest, sincere, loving, careing (often spelt like that), genuine".

They will often tell you about their tragic life story or history. Often this will include the death of both parents at an early age, they are recently widowed, they have a sick child or a child has died.

In combination with their life story, the dating site scammer may also claim to do saint-like activities such as work with disabled people and students, work for a charity such as UNICEF, or even work for the United Nations.

Alternatively, some dating site scammers (usually from Russia) are very sexual in nature and desire to be loved and cared for by you and to please your every desire, despite only having read your profile for 5 minutes.

The Photo

The photo used by a dating site scammer is often very professional - almost too professional. Photos will be very clear and appear to be a "pose" by a professional model. Alternatively, many male scammers from African countries will send a passport-like photo of themselves. It will be very grainy and somewhat aged.

Some photos may also appear to be everyday snaps, but are very tiny - almost thumbnail in appearance.

The Message

The message sent to you by a dating site scammer is almost always your first contact with them.

In most cases, the message is likely to be very self contained and not just a simple "Hi, want to chat?". It will include many of the keywords and phrases used in their personality description (see above) and will often request you contact them directly via their email address or to add them directly to MSN or your computer's Instant Messenger.

A good example of a typical message would be similar to the following:

Hello, am Jennifer Smith by name, am 25 years old,from USA but currently living in Lagos,Nigeria I got my first Degree from Greemwich university, London, and am currently working for Unicef. am real, loving, faithful careing lady who is god fearing and would like to talk to you more. Please contact me on emailaddress@email or add my name to your MSN. Love Jennifer xxoo

So, what do I do if I think I have found a scammer?

If you believe the person contacting you fits the descriptions listed above, do the following three things:

Report the scammer to the dating site operator. On MillionaireCupid.com, you can do this by clicking the 'report abuse' button on the profile, or simply the contact link on the top navigation bar. They will investigate them.

If the scammer has listed their email address in their message to you, contact the scammer's email provider. In many cases this will be a free email service such as Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail. If possible, send them a copy of the message sent to you by the scammer, including the scammers email address.

Ignore them. After completing the above steps, delete their message to you immediately. You should not continue corresponding with them and under no circumstances give them any personal information such as your email address or phone number.