Chat websites provide a convenient way to meet new friends or talk with people who have similar hobbies or interests. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet draws scammers who like to pretend they are someone they are not. Scammers may be looking for inappropriate relationships by pretending to be someone they are not but in most cases, scammers are looking for ways to con chat room participants out of money.
Scammers preying on members of chat websites are clever. They will take their time building a friendship or romance, often talking at length before making any request for money. Avoid people who instantly want to become your best friend or who claim they have fallen in love with you after just a few exchanged messages. Scammers want to establish a connection with their victims, making their later requests for money difficult to turn down.
Be wary of an individual on chat websites who sounds too good to be true. Many scammers, both male and female, claim to be models or pretend to have high-paying jobs, hoping that their victims will not ask too many questions. Beware of people that have photos that look professionally done, anyone can steal photos off a modeling website. Real chat room participants usually don’t offer to send multiple pictures of themselves immediately but scammers often use this tactic to entice a potential victim.
Scammers frequently claim to be American or British citizens who just happen to be working overseas in Africa. This is only an excuse for a request that you send them money in Africa, because they are unable to access their funds until they get back home. Never send money to anyone you meet in a chat room, especially via Western Union. There will be a sob story about some type of emergency but the U.S. and U.K. governments have resources for citizens needing help overseas, you do not need to get involved.
Avoid anyone who takes a long time to answer you; they may be chatting with multiple potential victims on multiple chat websites. While you should not expect an immediate answer every time, people who routinely take more than a few minutes to get back to you might be scammers. Chats with people who are only out to con money out of victims often sound generic; they may be sending the same messages out to multiple potential victims.
More recently scammers have been advertising the sale of nude photos or cam shows in chat rooms. The scammer will pose as a female, usually with a very attractive profile picture. Do not believe them! Often times this profile picture will be revealed to be a fake by doing a simple search by image on google. This service will allow you to run a search for websites containing the specified image, making it very easy to see if a profile picture was downloaded from the internet. The scammer will try to get you to pay them before showing any nudes or going on camera and as soon as they get money from you they will disconnect. A good rule of thumb is to never trust anyone selling something in a chat room.
Fortunately, online scammers are easier to deal with than those you meet in person. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, block him or her or report him or her to the moderator of the chat. You are under no obligation to chat with anyone that you feel may be misrepresenting him or herself. If a person sounds too good to be true, they probably are a scammer.