As any strategic gamer knows — it’s always best to stack up your odds to win. In the new name of digital love, this often means joining each and every dating site you can in the hopes of meeting your match. Though, sure, this has created an easier way to find folks you wouldn’t normally come across, it also attracts those who are only out to get a buck. After all, as we recently reported, online dating scamming results in the lost of millions from gullible singles.
You may consider yourself savvy and smart — and you probably are — but as digital matching grows, so do the number of ‘plays’ scammers try to get the best of you. (And trust us, it’s not as funny as Barney Stinson’s gimmicks on How I Met Your Mother.) Recently, Social Catfish was given a 20-page Nigerian handbook by an anonymous source, revealing step-by-step tips and tricks for luring in innocent victims.
We’ve read through it, and to put it bluntly: it’s scary AF. Here, the highlights you should be aware of:
They hijack profiles that are active from real people.
When you think about being ghosted — you probably picture some random person posing as someone else miles away. But when you think about being scammed, you likely consider it’s a computer bot — or a profile that was purely created for deceit. The handbook actually argues the opposite, saying sophisticated hackers actually bust into active profiles from real folks and start messaging on their behalf. If a user isn’t proactive, they may not even notice the hijacking.
They have a full section on saying ‘hi.’
There are some emails that are so obviously a scammer, you delete ‘em right away. Hackers know this — and they’ve developed ways to convince you they are genuine. In the manifesto, there is a full section on how to engage with a new user via various ways to say ‘hi’ and flirt with ‘em. These include ‘I want this message to be the reason you smile at your screen’ and ‘If you wanted to talk, it’d definitely make my day.’
They have answers to every question you may ask.
Part of the job description of an online hacker is to well, dismiss the suspicious assumptions. After all, if you give any hint that you aren’t who you say you are, the spidey sense inevitably creeps up and creepers need a way to handle it. Another section of the book gives every answer to any possible question, urging scammers to create a detailed family background and persona. After all, when you share emotional truths with a stranger (i.e. a parent passing away at a young age, a bad relationship experience), they feel connected to you and trust you. This makes it less likely they’ll keep raising an eyebrow.
They encourage you to play hard to get.
It may seem counterproductive to play it cool when you’re trying to convince someone to give you money — but it’s actually a bit genius. The handbook explains why you should be coy at the beginning and not rush into any phrases of affection — like ‘I love you’ — or you can scare your target away. Instead, they encourage taking your time vs. quick wins.
Lastly, they go in for the cash.
Once you’ve played your cards right, it’s time to chase after the dollar signs. After you’ve convinced your match of your history and background, built a repertoire and dynamic with them, they provide many prompts for getting cash. These include emergency repairs, seeing children or family in another country, making their way into customs and other heart-wrenching excuses. When your strings are tugged, you could be tempted to give in to the scam.
If you ever feel as if someone is playing you, make sure to contact authorities ASAP — and never ignore your gut feeling. Because let’s face it: the love your life probably won’t ask you for any cash before you at least meet up for a cold one.