KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 – ‘Break The Bias’ is the tagline for this year’s International Women’s Day.
The purpose is obvious, to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination against women.
Even though gender equality has been long been advocated, there is still a tendency for society to unfairly judge women.
An example would be the events on Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler series. When the female victims tried to speak up and expose Simon’s scam, many blamed them for believing in a fairy tale, and being blinded by the false promises of money and luxurious lifestyles.
In fact, this commonly held belief is not necessarily true. Based on a survey done by dating agency Lunch Actually in 2021, the pandemic has changed the type of singles using dating apps.
Out of 500 singles surveyed in Malaysia, 50 per cent of them said they have encountered scammers.
While these scammers have gotten more sophisticated over the years, the pattern always remains the same — their goal is to get women to become emotionally attached to them, so that they would do anything for them.
In the documentary, the victims of this elaborate love scam are successful and independent career women. They are not tricked because they were fooled by the promise of a luxurious lifestyle, but by Simon’s manipulative actions.
Just like most love scam victims, they too, are educated and smart women who are capable of supporting themselves. But, scammers know exactly what to say and when to say it, to get the women to trust them.
Violet Lim, CEO and co-founder of Lunch Actually, shares these common red flags that can help you to spot scammers on dating apps, which will enable single women to be careful before trusting someone they meet online.
1. They Are Never Based In Your City
When you start talking to scammers, they are always based overseas. Or in the rare scenario that they say they are local, they would always go on business trips or have to work overseas. Basically, they are always unable to arrange a meet-up with you.
2. Their Profiles Are Usually Too Good To Be True
These scammers would usually have very attractive profiles and pictures. Their photos would show a luxurious lifestyle: vacations on a yacht, traveling all around the world, posing with their sports car, and so on. Remember, nowadays, everything can be rented, including luxurious stuff.
A tip for you: go for less attractive profile photos because there’s a higher chance that they are real and genuine, instead of these scammers who seem to have the perfect life.
Also, if the person that you’re matched with looks like too attractive, you can use Google Reverse Image Search to check the authenticity of these photos. Many scammers often use photos of models online to pass off as their own.
3. Their Life Sounds Like A Soap Opera
After talking to them for a little while, they would start telling you about their problems to get your sympathy.
There are many well-known tactics that scammers use, such as claiming to have a sick or dying family member, saying their business is not doing well, claiming to have no close family members or friends, and saying there is no one else to turn to when they need help.
From there, they would start to ask you for help by lending them money.
Never lend money to people that you don’t know, and have never met in real life, Scammers know how to gain your trust and sympathy, but do not ever disclose your personal information or bank details to someone you have not met before.
4. They Know All The Right Things To say
It is very likely that you are talking to a scammer if he is being too affectionate, even before meeting you in person.
He would immediately tell you that he loves you, you’re his dream woman, you’re the only one, or that he has never felt this way before.
He would never agree to a meet-up or a video call, and would always provide excuses not to show his face.
However, many unsuspecting victims still believe them because they are already emotionally involved.
Scammers would often also try to send you expensive gifts, but then say that these items have been stopped by customs, and need you to pay any outstanding duties.
Real customs personnel must abide by official procedures and will not ask for any bank transfers. Do not fall for this trick, and never send any money.
Lim also shares these safety tips when it comes to online dating:
1. Don’t Share Your Particulars Such As Your Workplace And Home Addresses
Workplace and home addresses are very confidential, and only people you really trust can know them.
The problem is scammers tend to make themselves very trustworthy.
Remember that you still need to have doubts about strangers, especially if you have met them online.
2. Avoid Sharing Personal Images On The Internet, As These May Be Used Against You
Sending and receiving personal images can make you feel more intimate with someone, but remember the boundaries.
Not everyone appreciates your pictures, since they can be used against you when something goes wrong.
3. When Going On A First Date, Meet In A Public Place Like A Mall Or Restaurant During The Day
Scammers would avoid public places, since they are afraid someone may recognise them.
If your match does not want to meet you in a public space, this is something you should be wary about.
Meeting someone you barely know in a public place, especially during the day, can give you the benefit of safety, since you may ask for help if you think you need it.
4. Let Your Family and Friends Know That You Are On A Date, And Who You Are Meeting
Tell people you can trust when you are about to go on a date with someone you got to know through a dating app.
Send them the location, time, date, and other specific details. Taking extra precautions is better than letting your guard down.
“You don’t need validation from other people that you are worth it, and don’t blame yourself for becoming the victim of a scammer. If you think you are talking to a scammer or have been scammed, stop engaging with them and report to the authorities immediately,” Lim advised.