Romance scammers: here's what you need to know to avoid them

Whether it's Tinder swindlers or Grindr gremlins, see these six pointers on avoiding scammers on dating sites

10 April 2024 - 16:22 By Staff Writer
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Romance scams continue to rise on digital platforms. Stock image.
Romance scams continue to rise on digital platforms. Stock image.
Image: svetazi/123RF

Romance scams have been a common occurrence with the constant use of online messaging and dating. In 2022 nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam and losses that hit $1.3bn (R24.3bn).

The team at SOAX, a data extraction platform, provide these tips on ways to avoid getting scammed:


Poorly worded texts or e-mails with multiple misspellings, awkward syntax and grammatical errors are usually an indication of a scam. Legitimate messages from a company would have been proofread and should be easy to read.


A scam message often prompts recipients to act instantly and has a tone that implies emergency action is required. This is to play on the emotions of the person receiving the message and encourage them to take action and respond. A company rarely has an urgent request that requires immediate action, especially if it involves a financial transaction.

You should always check who is making the request. Even if it comes across as someone you know check the profile and contact them. Their account could have been compromised.


E-mail, text and phone scams often ask for some form of sensitive information, whether it’s financial information such as bank details or login passwords and secret answers to security questions on various personal accounts. Companies only ask for login details in their login system on the website and they will probably never ask for them in a cold call or e-mail.


If a person you’re talking to causes you to suspect they could be a scammer, check the profile. Scammers use fake pictures of somebody else and a good rule of thumb is to check the age of the profile. If the profile is new and the only posts and content are from recent days and weeks, it’s likely the profile is a scammer. Have a look at alternative social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn to see if you can find out if the person is real, but you still shouldn’t trust what they say if you’re not convinced.


A standout way to spot a scam e-mail is if the e-mail refers to the receiver by email address, for example, dear Also look out for inconsistencies in the names in e-mail addresses, for example, a different name to who they’ve said they are in the e-mail. If you get a message from a phone number that is unknown or a message that claims to be from a business despite coming from a mobile number, this is likely to be a scam and you should block the number.

Scam e-mails and texts often address the receiver in a way that might appear strange or uncommon. This could be through vague forms of addressing the potential victim, through names such as Sir, Madam, Miss or Mr, because they either don’t have the recipient's personal information or they copy and paste the message to multiple people.


With so many scam e-mails and texts slipping through the net and onto recipients' smartphones and inboxes, those receiving them must never click on any links in the message. That’s because these links can open and download malware onto the device which can not only steal personal information but also slow down the device. 

If you receive a link from an unknown account always check the URL and who sent it before opening anything. If you’re suspicious, take the link to a platform such as URLVoid, which will tell you if it's safe to click on. 

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