Every year, there’s a dramatic increase in romance scams. The Federal Trade Commission found that the number of romance reports tripled between 2016 and 2020, and the reported financial losses from these scams more than quadrupled.
Don’t think the trend has stopped there.
In 2021, online daters lost $547 million to romance scams. The number of reports nearly doubled from 2020, and the losses increased by $240 million.
I’m not sharing these statistics to scare you away from online dating. Online dating platforms offer a great place to meet new people, connect, and find your true love.
But… And this is a BIG BUT. You have to be careful and aware of romance scams.
Don’t think you are special and won’t or can’t be a target.
How can you identify a dating scam? By asking the person questions.
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11 Questions Have to You Ask a Romance Scammer
Here are the types of questions you should ask a romance scammer – and actually anyone you are dating online.
I’ve also included reasons why these questions make a scammer uncomfortable and what you should watch out for.
1. What’s your middle name?
Scammers will generally use generic names like Anna, Bob, Sarah, or John. These kinds of names are easy for them to remember (after all, they are running more than one scam, so need to try to keep their stories straight for all their victims).
Asking the person you suspect to be a scammer about their middle name will help you identify that the relationship you have with them is fake. The scammer will be at a loss to give you a middle name and a convincing back story.
You’ll also be able to spot inconsistencies if they do make up a name and story about it.
2. What’s your family like?
Maybe not everyone has a family in the traditional sense, but a scammer will claim to have no one (pulling on your heart strings) or be hesitant to talk about them. They may also tell you about how they were abused and then follow that up with a request to help them.
Look for inconsistencies if they do talk about their families versus what they write about in their dating profile or the photos they’ve shared.
3. Can we do a video call later?
It’s really surprising if a scammer actually has a video call with you (with their video on), and even more so if they suggest it.
Typically, if you ask the romance scammer to video call with you, they’ll:
If you video call with someone who doesn’t look like their profile image, it’s easy to know the jig is up and how to spot red flags in your relationship.
4. What’s your favorite restaurant/theater/hang out place in your home town?
When you ask specific questions like this, you gather specific information. Your scammer may claim to be from London when they are actually in some dingy Asian, African, or European town. Unless they’ve lived in London (and there’s a small chance of that), they’ll know nothing of their supposed hometown.
This is an easy way to catch a romance scammer out on the lies they tell.
And on the off-chance that they answer your question, a quick Google search will reveal whether they are copying information or really know the place. And a generic answer like McDonald’s isn’t a truthful answer, so beware.
5. What school/university/college did you go to?
This is a common icebreaker question and something you ask when you get to know someone. Chances are the scammer will say they didn’t go to college or they’ll name an obscure little college or high school somewhere. They’ll even give you vague answers like “somewhere abroad.”
You’ll notice how the scammer dodges personal, specific questions.
6. What was your favorite activity when you were a child?
Most people have a favorite activity they did when they were younger, and it can even be a family tradition or a ritual they share. Scammers create a persona when they connect with you, and to play on your sympathies and have common ground, their stories often change to mirror yours.
Again, the con artist will try to not answer, be vague, or share some sad story about how they were orphaned … before subtly asking you for money or help.
7. What’s your day like?
It’s easy to pick up on inconsistencies and when someone is bluffing when they share information about their day, yet that information doesn’t match what people in those professions experience.
For example, your scammer may claim to be in the military and currently serving somewhere. If their typical day doesn’t match a description from someone who is actually in the military, you’ll know they are lying.
If they say they can’t talk about certain aspects of their live, push for specifics that they can share like their meal at lunch and the weather.
8. When can we meet?
Push the scammer into a corner with this message when they say they miss you. Most likely, they’ll reply with a non-committal and evasive answer – someone who is really into you would want to meet you.
If you continue insisting on when you can meet or when they return home, they’ll get even more jittery. They may also get rude – and you surely don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who is passive-aggressive or worse.
And if they do want to meet, watch out for the professional (Russian and Ukrainian) dating scam.
9. What are you doing right now?
You need to be ready to pounce when you ask this question. The scammer may be vague and say they are chatting to you. But when they are busy typing a response, hit the video call button.
The scammer will never answer the video call. And if you ask them about it, they’ll have excuses ready – they look like crap, their coworkers are noisy, or their internet connection is unstable.
10. Where did you grow up? What was your hometown like?
This is a question we ask when we are getting to know someone, so it doesn’t seem out of place. And everyone has stories to share about their hometown and their childhood, but with a scammer, it’s different.
Again, it’ll either be a sob story before they ask for help (coz that’s how they rope you in) or their answers will be vague or full of inconsistencies. For vague answers, ask specific questions, or or something like, “Oh, then you must know James. He used to …”
If the person on the other end struggles to answer simple questions like this, they are playing you.
11. Can I have your social security or ID number?
Leave this question until the romance scammer has asked for your help. If you need to transfer, say that your financial advisor, lawyer, or bank account manager had requested their social security number or ID number to complete the transfer.
The scammer will never agree to share this information with you, and they’ll most likely have excuses ready. Don’t fall for them.
Final Thoughts on Questions for a Romance Scammer
The online dating world can be a scary place, and if you think about how many people are being scammed every day, I don’t blame you for wanting to give online dating a miss.
But many couples have found each other on a dating platform and they love each other and are happy together. You, too, can find your true love. Just be mindful of the frogs – don’t kiss them.
Your soulmate will be authentic and want to be with you because of who you are. Read more: “13 Unmistakable Signs You’re in the Right Relationship”
Want to know more about scams? Check out my comprehensive online dating and romance scam guide!