If you hear the word “scam,” you may feel like you’d rather run away. Except you do really want to find your soulmate – so is it worth the risk, looking for love when it seems like romance scams are inescapable?
Well, the key is to be extra safe and wary. Just like you wouldn’t trust any stranger you met in real life, so too you shouldn’t place your trust in someone you’ve met online.
Some statistics to put things into perspective:
What does WhatsApp have to do with romance and dating scams, you wonder. After all, WhatsApp is a communication platform, not an online dating service.
So let’s dive into the world of WhatsApp romance and dating scams.
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Is WhatsApp Safe to Use for Online Dating?
WhatsApp is as safe for online dating as most other online dating tools. It is up to you to do your due diligence and beware that any cyber lover can be a scammer.
WhatsApp is owned by Meta, the same company that owns Facebook. It’s currently the most popular app for sending messages, with more than 2 billion users and more than 100 billion messages that are exchanged daily.
Considering these statistics, it’s no surprise that hackers, scammers, catfishers, and spammers have made their way onto the platform. Imagine if you are a scammer – wouldn’t you like to tap into the WhatsApp market of 2 billion users?
Scammers Targeting Victims Using WhatsApp: What’s Up?
With all the users on WhatsApp, scammers have quite the playground.
But why exactly are they gunning for their victims on WhatsApp?
Some scammers are randomly targeting WhatsApp users, but most WhatsApp romance and dating scams actually start on another platform. It can be Bumble, Tinder, or any other dating site.
They soft-soap you on these dating sites once you’ve been matched, and you fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Thinking you’ve found the perfect match, you are all for it when the scammer requests your mobile number so you can chat more on WhatsApp.
The scammer uses WhatsApp (and other messaging apps) to prevent their fake social media and dating accounts from being reported. In their world, they believe that WhatsApp is “safer” to communicate with you.
If you become suspicious, you can report their WhatsApp account. If their WhatsApp account is deleted, it’s much easier to create a new account on the messaging app than create a dating profile (where all their hard work with photos, matches, and more will be lost).
Plus, the scammer thinks if they chat to you on WhatsApp, they seem more legit. If you believe the scammer to be a legitimate person who is the love of your life, you’ll trust them and open up more.
You’ll feel comfortable sharing details about yourself and your life, but all the while, the scammer is building up to their scam – using the details you shared against you.
WhatsApp Romance Scams: How Does It Work Exactly?
Various romance scams occur on WhatsApp, but they all start the same.
The romance scam artists are actually catfish scammers. They create fake online dating profiles with stolen images and bios created to lure you in.
The catfishers chat to you on the online dating tool, telling you exactly what you want to hear to convince you of their sincerity, interest, infatuation, and love for you.
Then when things are heating up, so to speak, they request moving the conversation to WhatsApp.
That’s when they keep chatting to you until they pull one of the following maneuvers:
The Crypto Scam
The scammer may entice you when telling you how much money they’ve made by investing in cryptocurrencies and how you don’t even need to invest that much. They’ll even share screenshots of their supposed returns – that seems legit, right?
They’ll share a link, saying you need to set up an account on what’s actually a scam website even though it looks real.
You’re essentially investing into coins controlled by the scam artists.
Interestingly, a 2021 study found that more than 50% of all the listed tokens on Uniswap, a decentralized, legit crypto exchange, was fake. Not all of these crypto scam investments were romance and dating scams.
But the truth remains clear – don’t invest in projects that online strangers recommend – even when you believe they are your soulmate.
And don’t think if you are crypto savvy you are safe. These scammers are pros when it comes to tricking those with crypto investments to move their crypto from a centralized exchange onto Ethereum via a crypto wallet (like MetaMask).
The Blackmail Scam
The WhatsApp blackmail dating scam can work in one of two ways:
The call gets “heated” in that you are requested to take off your clothes and show body parts.
You think it was just a sexy call with your loved one until the scammer blackmails you – “Pay $300 or I’ll share the video and photos with your colleagues, friends, and family.”
Embarrassed, you pay and think that’s the end of it. Except they continue to blackmail you, demanding more money each time.
But again, whatever you share via video is recorded, and soon after the video, you are blackmailed.
The scammer continues to blackmail you because they want more and more money, and they bargain on you not going to the authorities and reporting it because you are too humiliated.
The Link Scam
This scam is mostly to steal your personal information, and it can take a variety of forms.
In essence, the scammer shares a link with you and gets you to click on the link. Once you click, you’re taken to a legitimate-looking but actually fake website – aka a phishing website – that’s created to steal your personal info (that will surely be used in nefarious ways).
The link can also download malware onto your device.
The scammer may try to get you to take a cute personality survey, do a couple’s quiz, or play a game with them. It can even be a link to a “helpful” website – maybe you mentioned you were looking for something, and now the scammer is relying on that oh-so useful information for their link scam.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Scammers are getting smarter, and the types of scams we’ll see in a month’s time may look so different that you don’t even see them coming.
That’s why you need to protect yourself from WhatsApp romance and dating scams. But how?
WhatsApp Dating Scams - FAQs
The scammers believe it’s safer for them to chat with their soon-to-be-victims via WhatsApp. The online dating platform may monitor chats and get wind of the scam, but communication on WhatsApp seems more legitimate. And then it’s just the scammer and their victim.
It isn’t safe to talk to strangers on any platform. Strangers won’t reach out on WhatsApp because they are nice and want to say hi; they’re reaching out because they want something – your money or your information by getting you to invest in crypto or click on a link taking you to a fake site.
WhatsApp is as safe to use as other platforms when it comes to dating, but it’s best to keep communicating with your love interests on the online dating tool you met them on. Never agree to move the conversation to WhatsApp.
The best way to stop strangers from messaging you on WhatsApp is to block them when you receive a message from someone you don’t know. This is best as you aren’t tricked into responding to the person or clicking on scammy links.
Generally, a person who’s catfishing you won’t want to call you – voice or video – and they won’t have an online presence. Their profile will be “recently created” with few followers or friends, and their photos will be stolen from elsewhere on the web.
Final Thoughts on WhatsApp Dating Scams
Thinking that you can be a victim of a WhatsApp dating or romance scam is scary.
And where is that point where you should trust the person you love and be wary of them?
The answer is that it isn’t easy. But it starts with protecting yourself:
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