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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
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.