How Dating Scammers Use Photoshop

Online dating can be a great way to meet new people, but it’s no secret that the world of internet romance can be a bit of a minefield. If you happen to be male and heterosexual, you will probably escape the majority of the creeps and stalkers but you will find you are particularly susceptible to another group of unpleasant people. Female scammers (or scammers who claim to be female on their profiles) are increasingly a problem for would-be online romancers. Thanks to the power of Photoshop, they can seem very convincing and genuine.

How do These Scams Work?

It is convenient to refer to this group of scammers as “female scammers” but in reality they are more likely to be men. They set up profiles on dating websites with fake pictures in order to attract men, and then start exchanging messages and even texts or phone calls in order to win you over. They can seem extremely genuine or loving, but once they have won your trust they will find an excuse to ask for money. Common excuses include emergency travel money, having to pay fines, or simple financial difficulty.

Scammers may use the same tactics to target women and LGBT individuals of both sexes, but heterosexual men are the most common targets. This is because men usually outnumber women on dating sites. Scammers have less competition for their affections, while women are comparatively flooded with choice.

Where Does Photoshop Come in?

Everyone is capable of doing some foolish things while blinded by love, but in normal circumstances most people would become very suspicious when asked for money by someone we have met online. For that reason, it is essential for the scammers to win the trust of a man completely before they start asking for money. In order to achieve that, they have to make it seem like they are definitely, unquestionably real.

Photo stolen and used by scammers

Original photo

Photoshopped photo

Stolen, photoshopped and used by scammers photo

An old and often well-trusted way to prove that you are genuine online is to write a person’s name or a message of their choice on a piece of paper, then take a photograph of yourself holding it. Surely the only way you could get a photograph of a woman holding a custom, handwritten message is if you were that woman? The problem is that pieces of paper are extremely easy to modify in Photoshop. Scammers can take a picture of almost any girl from the internet, then make it appear they are holding a personal message to you. Sometimes they choose suspiciously professional-looking photos, but often they are just the kind of everyday images you may see on someone’s social media profiles.

Scammers may also use Photoshop to prove their identity in other ways. For example, they might send you a scan of their passport or another form of identity document. Even to a naturally suspicious person, a scan of a passport seems like proof of identity. Unfortunately, it probably proves nothing more than their Photoshop skills.