Love me "Tinder"

14 Feb 2017
The romantic lyrics of the Alicia Keys song ‘Tender Love’ may draw lonely hearts to the dating app Tinder or similar online sites this Valentine’s Month. Unfortunately Keys’ song ‘Try sleeping with a broken heart’ could be more appropriate for those who end up parting with money in the name of love.

Online dating scams are on the rise according to John Manyike, Head of Financial education at Old Mutual. “This month of love not only should you protect your heart, but you should protect your pocket as well. We are hearing more and more that innocent people are being scammed to part with their hard-earned money, and our message would be to be aware of the potential risks of sending your money to someone you have not yet met, despite feeling close to them online,” he says.

“Unfortunately criminals use these online dating sites too and we want to warn individuals to remain vigilant when the topic of money comes up with a potential companion or a seeming soulmate. The ugly truth is that some people are looking to make fast money off lonely and vulnerable people through a variety of scams.”

History and research has shown that such fraudsters usually troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of their victims. In March 2016, Sunday Times revealed that over R70 million has been stolen from vulnerable women who are over 40, divorced, widowed or are disabled in South Africa, but Manyike warns that every age group and demographic is at risk.

Manyike offers the following awareness tips on how online daters can avoid falling victim:

1. Remember how hard you have worked and continue to work for your money. Ask yourself what you would do if you lost all your savings? When you have an answer to that, imagine it. If that leaves you terrified, then make your decision to disagree to be generous with online partner no matter how compelling or logical their plea is for funds to visit you, or a pay medical bill, or to secure a holiday for the two of you to enjoy, and the list goes on.

2. Always share what is happening with someone you trust. Chances are this person will be more objective and will likely pick up the danger signs and bring them to your attention. Do not ignore them.

3. Your goals must be stronger than any temptation that might come your way. Remember your goals and save your money for your children’s education and paying off your bond, etc. Be emotionally attached to your goals in order to be disciplined and committed. Another option is to consider safely putting aside your money in formal savings instruments that will yield a better return in the long term.

4. Don’t share your rand amount in your savings account with your online partner. This puts you in a compromised position where you will be a target to these scammers.

Manyike concludes that exercising caution, being aware and making conscious decisions when it comes to your finances is imperative. “It eliminates your chances of falling for scams and keeps your money safe from the hands of the fraudsters involved,” he says.

“Always remember your goals and be emotionally attached to them as opposed to the money itself. Be very cautious of being generous with your hard earned money with faceless strangers who may turn out to be fraudsters. Use your thumb to swipe left on your savings policy options rather than right, which could lead to a road of heartbreak and financial devastation,” concludes Manyike.

For more information on Old Mutual’s popular financial education programme, join the digital community on Facebook (On the money financial education) or follow us on Twitter: @OM_ONTHEMONEY.