The Military Ruse
“You don’t know me, but I stumbled across your picture, and I couldn’t look away. You’re just stunning!”
Not many of us wouldn’t be intrigued if we saw this in our inbox on Instagram. It is the hook that many scammers use to catch the attention of women all around the world. Sometimes the writing is less articulate and full of grammar errors, but the message is the same: I don’t know you, but you’re beautiful!
The military ruse follows a very predictable pattern. They always message a potential victim through Instagram. They pour on the flattery like hot butter over popcorn. Sometimes they may send you poetry. They will call you “babe, sweetie, and love.” They are always in the US military. Almost always they are deployed overseas in Africa. Often they have a dead wife or they have been hurt by their previous girlfriend. They will often send you pictures of them in their uniform. However, an astute observer might notice that the name on their uniform doesn’t match what they say their name is, or they claim they’re in the navy but send you a picture of a man in an air force uniform. They may even send you a picture of their military ID, but if you look closely it is obvious it has been photo shopped. They will try to get you to chat with them on Google Hangouts, their preferred method of communication because they cannot be traced. Sometimes they will call you on the phone, but they will never video call you.
They will then begin to create intimacy with you as they confide that they can’t stop thinking about you. They will reveal that they have never met anyone like you before, and usually within just a few short days they will confess their undying love. Usually within 24 to 48 hours after that declaration of love, they will ask for money or gift cards. Sometimes they will slow down a bit if they sense their potential victim is getting wary, but almost always the “relationship” progresses very fast.
These scammers are individuals in third world countries who have used this ruse, and many others, to successfully take hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting, eager-for-love victims. They use every social media site including creating fake profiles to infiltrate dating apps. It is very important to keep your mind in full gear while you are looking for love. Each scammer has several ruses he/she uses, but the military ruse is quite popular on Instagram. So, if you see any of the telltale signs of the ruse, here is what you can do:
- Remember that Instagram is NOT a dating app. If someone approaches you on this app and tries to start a relationship with you out of thin air, be very wary.
- Do a reverse Google search on their pictures. Most scammers have stolen pictures off of Facebook or other sites. There’s a good chance you will find out who the image belongs to by doing a reverse image search.
- Ask the person to video call you or Face Time you. If they’re a scammer, they will give you an excuse as to why they can’t. With the military ruse, they will usually say it’s because they are deploying soon so they are too busy or they aren’t allowed to because they are on a secret mission.
- Remember, real love and emotion takes time to develop. If they are professing love after knowing very little about you, it’s not love—it’s a lure.
- Learn to be skeptical of everyone! When you are honestly searching for a relationship, it is hard to engage your brain once your heart gets put into gear. Scammers know this. They send you sweet messages. They flatter you. They know if they can get your heart involved, you will likely turn off your brain. That’s when they start asking for things. Don’t get tricked. At the first sign of trouble, block the person.
Some scammers are a little more sophisticated and they start with something that looks legitimate, but they all will ultimately follow the same pattern: get their victim onto Google Hangouts, profess love, and ask for money. Don’t fall prey to these schemes. They continue to use this ruse because it works! It’s time for the singles of the world to shut these pathetic scammers down.
A few years ago, using an online dating service was considered shameful and people would often lie about how they met their significant other if they met each other online. Today, times are changing. Last year, meeting someone online was the most common way people met their spouse or spouse-to-be (19%). This was followed by being introduced by friends (17%), meeting someone in college (15%), and then work place romances (12%). While you should always exercise safe dating practices, when you meet someone online you have an increased risk, so you should be extra cautious.
What does that look like? First, make sure you use a reputable dating service. Dating Safe is revolutionary in how we approach dating safety. We go over and beyond other dating services to vet and verify all of our members. No other dating service does that. However, even with all of the safeguards we use, we encourage our members, and everyone else for that matter, to follow these great tips as they look for their soul mate.
- When it comes to your online profile, limit the amount of personal information you give out. Particularly, pay attention to the pictures you post. Do they reveal where you work, live, or play frequently? Does it show your license plate or your jogging path? This kind of information should be kept private until you determine you can trust the person you are interested in. That should be several in-person dates down the road. There is a delicate balance to be reached between getting to know someone and revealing too much private information. You can talk about work, but you can keep the location private until you feel safe with that person.
- Do a little online sleuthing. Do a Google search on their name. Do a reverse Google image search on their pictures. If you find them on Facebook, see if you have any friends in common and message your friends to get information on them.
- Consider using a Google phone number and have it forwarded to your phone. This is free by using Google Voice. This is an easy way to avoid giving your personal number to someone before you are ready to give that to them. You can also use your online dating service messaging to communicate until you are ready to reveal your phone number.
- While it is tempting to text to set up the first date, psychologists highlight suggest you talk to someone on the phone. There are things you can only learn from talking to someone and your instincts will respond more clearly from hearing their voice than just reading some words on a screen.
- If the person you are talking to online starts to ask for money, this is a huge red flag. Do not fall for their sob story. Never send money. Usually the request for money is preceded or followed by passionate professions of love. Don’t fall for it. Delete the person. Block them.
Once you’ve decided to have a first date, there are some things you should do. These are essential when meeting anyone new for the first time even if your best friend has set you up and given you her full endorsement.
- Tell someone where you will be, who you are meeting, and how long you will be gone.
- Drive yourself there.
- Go somewhere public.
- Keep it brief. Meet for coffee or lunch. Grab a drink after work. If you are drinking alcohol, limit your intake so you can stay alert and aware.
- Consider carrying a self-defense tool and some emergency cash.
- Trust your instincts.
- Have your “gotta go excuse” ready to go in case the date is going poorly or your instincts tell you something is wrong. This can be coordinated with your check-in buddy.
- Go home alone.
Overall, whenever you are on a date, it is imperative to respect time, space, and privacy. While asking questions to get to know someone better is a natural technique for conversation, you need to be careful to respect boundaries. Someone may not be ready to divulge where they take yoga classes if they are protecting their privacy. So, instead of asking: where is your yoga studio? Ask them: what do you love about yoga? You will learn more about your date by asking the second question and respect his/her need for privacy.
While online dating has its challenges, it is definitely worth it. The good news is, research is showing that marriages that result from online dating are happening quicker and are less likely to end the first year. Couples who met online are also reporting more marital satisfaction. So, what’s stopping you? Get on DatingSafe.com and get your profile ready to go. We do a big chunk of the work for you by vetting and verifying our members so you get real people looking for real relationships. Then use the tips above and you are on your way to find the love of your life!
Meet Our Founder Tracy
My Story… 2011, Tragedy strikes! Suddenly widowed with four small children. A stay at home mom with no clue about how to live life as a widow. Manual not included. A rusty resume. Then, a journey to the afterlife changed everything. The power of forgiveness and letting go. Learning to keep my sanity intact by remembering to laugh when life literally falls apart. Discovering my divine purpose. Helping others find love. How my own online dating flops, failures and mishaps led me to start Dating Safe. Leading the industry in secure online dating. Finding hope, faith, and optimism against all odds. Ultimately, learning how to tackle life events with humor, sorrow and most of all honesty.
IT’S NOT RIGHT THAT ONE PERSON CAN BE MASQUERADING AS 10 PEOPLE ONLINE! DATING SAFE IS TAKING STEPS TO MAKE ONLINE DATING SECURE. WE’VE TEAMED UP WITH YOTI TO VERIFY WHO A PERSON IS BY THEIR ID DRIVERS LICENSE / PASSPORT, A FACIAL SCAN, AND SELFIE. YOU WILL KNOW WHO YOU’RE MEETING ONLINE IS WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE.
While online dating continues to grow, people fall victim to dating fraud and romance scams which cost time, money, and emotional distress. Daters are required to trust that the people they meet online are who they claim to be. Yet fake profiles and bots on dating sites are not uncommon, and it’s too easy to be tricked or scammed by somebody using a false identity or hiding behind a fake profile. So, to solve that problem every member at Dating Safe is verified by government ID. We’re raising the bar by raising the barrier to entry. Thank you for joining us!