Online Dating Scam Red Flags

You’ve heard the stories.

You know there are people on online dating sites who are only there to get your money, with no intention of meeting you, dating you, or loving you. I’ve talked with a few, and played the game, to find out what tricks they had up their sleeves.

What are the Red Flags?

Most of the time they have a sob story that their wife died in some horrible accident, or from cancer, leaving him a widower and single dad. It’s always a story that will pull at your heart strings.

One guy told me his wife and son died in a horrible car accident on her way to church. He was a soldier in the US army, stationed in Syria, and his daughter was at boarding school in Canada.

What made me suspicious?

He was not in my area. He was in Syria, a war zone, and a US soldier. I realize that the US did send soldiers to train the rebels, however, at the time of this conversation, it was not public knowledge.

He would Skype with me, but the sound never worked and we were still IMing, though we could ‘see’ each other. He had lots of time to talk to me, too much time, he could spend all day on the computer chatting with me.

The photo he sent me of his daughter was an obvious stock photo and not a pic of his teenaged daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in 2 years. According to him, she lived at a Canadian Boarding School all year round.

I Googled to check and boarding schools in Canada cost over $50 K a year. I’m not positive, but I found it hard to believe that a US soldier made enough to pay for a private boarding school.

What I did to verify my suspicions:

I read a bunch about Syria, the climate, the people, the towns, the news, etc. Then asked him general vague questions, like what did you do today? Or what’s it like in Syria now? Or How’s the weather?

He’d take a long time to answer compared to other parts of our conversation. Then he’d send me a link to a news story, a weather update. He Googled the answer instead of telling me about his own experiences.

At one point, I asked him what time it was and he gave me the wrong time. I’d checked to see what the time difference was, so when he told me 10:00, I knew that he couldn’t be in Syria. He was in Russia.

The nail on his coffin was when he told me that his ‘son’ needed a mother. Remember, he had a teenage daughter and his son had died in a car accident.

How to Identify a Scammer:

Scammers have gotten more sophisticated over time. They now have fake Facebook profiles with few friends, none of whom are connected to each other, and were just opened. They have phone numbers registered to actual places in the US. They have addresses of a place near you. They have businesses with simple websites. They will call you and talk to you on the phone.

So, how can you know if that great guy, who wants to get to know you online, is real or a scammer? I don’t have a fool proof formula, all I can do is offer some points to help you.

  1. Keep a written record of the details he gives you, ie, age, location, kids, job.
  2. Keep all messages to look back and compare to new information he is giving you
  3. Ask vague open ended questions to encourage him to give you details
  4. Ask yourself, does his voice, accent, etc, match the photo
  5. Research the information he gives you. Google has lots of information
  6. Keep a written record of the times he contacts you & what time it would be there
  7. Ask yourself, does the information provided make sense?
  8. Do not give him too many details about your life, keep talking about him

Go with your gut. Don’t take anything he says at face value, always question. For example, you’ve kept a record of the times he contacts you and the times he claims he needs to be working. Considering the time difference, do they make sense?

Keep asking yourself questions, without asking him to explain why the information he is giving you isn’t making sense. Keep a record of everything and compare it. If you see a pattern of lies and things that don’t make sense, save yourself time and block him.

I have talked with a few online dating scammers to get a good idea of how they sound, what they promise, what they say. They have a system and if something sounds too good to be true, chances are they are empty promises designed to get you to trust and open up to them.

When a Scammer asked me for money:

Most times I talk to scammers, I shut them down way before they get to the request for money, one time, I didn’t. This scammer was good, at first, then he started triggering red flags, so I went all in. I pretended to be in love, crazy do anything for him love. Planning a future together, everything.

It took a week for him to ask me for money to get home from Taiwan, $50 000 – he had a shipment in customs and needed the cash to bribe officials to get it out. I told him, I didn’t have that kind of money. He asked for $25 000. I told him, I didn’t have that kind of money. He asked me to get a loan. I told him, I wouldn’t. He told me love is about helping each other out.

Yeah, no.

Bottom Line:

No matter how wonderful he sounds, the minute he asks you for money, it’s a scam. Close your computer and run. Run fast. Block him from everything and look for someone who lives close to you.

If he says he can only turn to you to ask for help, do you really want to be dating a guy with that few real world people who care about him? If he’s that alone in this world, chances are, there is a good reason for it. – RUN!

Talk to your friends, trust what they say, and know that there are men out there, close to you, who are not scammers, willing to love you. I know that sounds hollow and sometimes even I have a hard time believing that, however, what’s better? Being alone or getting taken by a scammer?

40 Something

In my novel series 40 Something, someone is gonna get scammed, I’m just not too sure whom yet. Who do you think would most likely fall for a scammer? Charlie, Lindsay, or Sophie? 

More information:

Online Dating Scams, Forensic Magazine. 

How Online Dating Scammers are Making $$ Infographic

Carol’s Story about an online dating scammer

Read Excerpts of the Series

Ebooks                                             Paperback

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Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PMShannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

For more information check out her


New Cover for 40 Something

My editor suggested a more ‘happy’ feeling cover. What are your thoughts about this one?

Click for more about the 40 Something Series.

What does it mean to be a 40 Something Woman in the 21st Century?

 Follow five women as they discover the answer. They are Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Wives, and Friends. They’re Married, Separated, Divorced, Single, or Dating. No matter their title, their status, or their choices they struggle to find meaning in their daily lives.

Shannon Peel (6)

Alone and Unloved

Excerpt from the book 40 Something about 5 women juggling careers, kids, family, and men. Based on true stories about life, marriage, dating, careers, rivals, sisters, friends, technology, abuse, love, and so much more.


I am unwanted.

I am unworthy.

I will never be loved.

These words keep going around and around in my head. Repeating themselves over and over. It’s like there is a demon talking inside my mind and it won’t shut up. It won’t stop. It’s incessant. I just want it to be silent so I can think, so I can sleep, so I can move on. How can I move on when I feel so alone? The pain inside is palpable. Every word stabs at me. Every realization rips me apart. I want to cry, scream, beat something, the pain is brutal and it won’t go away. It burns in my throat and behind my eyes. It rips at my heart. It leaves an empty hole beneath my breastbone. Everything hurts. A deep tired ache with every nerve on fire to remind me I’m alone.

I will always be alone.

Forever alone.

I’m damaged goods.

Craig found someone to love him. He found love, so, he must have been right when he said that I was the reason our marriage didn’t work, that I’m not good enough to love. He treats her with respect. He cares about her wants and needs. He never cared about mine. I was nothing but a burden to him. A responsibility he no longer wanted. I didn’t matter. What I wanted didn’t matter. Who I am didn’t matter. My happiness never mattered. All that mattered was him.

My kids need me.

I need to focus all my energy and attention on them. I’m a mother. Mothers don’t date. Mothers don’t go to bars. Mothers don’t have sex with men that aren’t their kid’s fathers. Mothers are good. I’m only a mother.

I’m a single mother.



My mother couldn’t love me. My husband couldn’t love me. I am unworthy of love, I know that, every guy can see that. They’ll know. I’ll just get rejected. I don’t want to date. I don’t want to be thrown away again.

Men don’t talk to me. Men talk to Lindsay because she’s gorgeous, fun, and happy. She doesn’t have all the problems I have. Men talk to Charlie because she is smart, successful and interesting. She doesn’t have all the insecurities I have. Men see them. Men don’t see me.




Lindsay wants me to go to some shindig with her tonight. I don’t want to go. Maybe I should tell her I’m sick. Who am I kidding? I’ll go. Even though I don’t want to. I’ll go because she asked me to. I never say no. I never do what I want. I don’t know. I’ll go. I don’t want to stay home. I don’t want to go. I just. Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know what I want.

Maybe I should ask Craig what I should do. He always told me what to do. I’m lost without him.

I better get ready. Lindsay will be ready to go soon. She won’t let me stay home. Damn. Why don’t I know what I want?

I am unlovable.

I am unwanted.

I am alone.

The pain is sharp and it cuts into my soul, shredding it to pieces.


Why do we Shame Each Other



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Purpose of this Blog

This blog is a look at the characters in a new novel about being a 40+ year old woman in today’s world. The novel, like all literature, draws from real life but embellishes it, changes it, and merges it together with fantasy. You won’t find a 100% true story on the blog or in the novel. I welcome any parenting or dating stories you would like to share for the book, but please understand the story will only be a jump off point as I’m not about to publish anything exactly as it happened. Email me today at Shannonpeel01[ at ]gmail [.com]

And yes…. Dating stories about women behaving badly are welcome too, as my characters are flawed and handicapped when it comes to dating.

Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PMShannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

For more information check out her