When we talk about staying safe online on this site, it's usually about who and how you hook-up with other guys. But there's another side to online safety, and that's watching out for people using dating sites to get money out of you.
It happens more than you'd expect, and it happens to people who think they're pretty sharp and experienced online. We don't want to spoil your fun, but look after yourselves out there, and here are some of the signs to watch for.
The internet is a key part of modern life now, and like anywhere people get together, as well as the good and fun guys you can meet online, there are some nasty bastards out to rip us off.
Most of us will have heard of the infamous Nigerian scams, where some mysterious Prince needs you to send some money for bank fees so they can access their family billions and then give you your share. Even though they've been around for quite a while, they still pull people in.
We're seeing more scammers show up on dating sites now. Some guys (well, we guess, could be girls) posing as gay men, and trying to rip us off.
Things often start innocently enough, just like anyone else they'll begin with a "Hi, hot profile!" or something similar. You start talking; find you have got so much in common, such incredible coincidences, so many shared interests and ideals and hopes. You're both looking for true love, but he's been hurt so many times before, maybe he tells you how scared he is, and how unsure he is of ever finding true love. Often they are patient, taking weeks to build up trust, getting to know you, and trying to get into your heart. Often they'll appear to be the man of your dreams - but stop and think - how come they are so completely perfect for you? How much have you revealed that has helped them figure out how to get into your head and your heart?
Chatting online can create a sense of intimacy really fast, often we tell people stuff there in five minutes that we wouldn't tell a friend in a bar - it feels private, it feels like we're in control when we're sitting in our home and doing it all. But stop and think - how much have they told you about themselves? Or has it mainly been you unloading and talking about you?
Do they answer your questions about themselves and their families, or do they turn it back into another question about you? Or are they inconsistent in their answers - are they working in a bank one day, but a few days later say they're at university? Typically they're scamming more than one guy at a time and can get their scripts mixed up.
Getting asked for money should always set off your alarm bells. Some of these scammers spend weeks chatting and getting to know you, then say they are coming to visit you... but, Oh no! Damn, some bastard stole all their money and they are stuck in an airport, and if you send them a thousand bucks they can get out and get here to start their new life with you.
Or maybe they left their wallet in a taxi and can't pay the hotel bill, or they've been sick in hospital and have spent all their cash on paying for that, and if you just send them some money they'll be able to continue their journey and come to you.
It's just not true. It might seem obvious when you see it written down this way, but it's easy to get pulled in. They make you feel responsible for what's happened to them. If someone asks you for money, say no, block them and alert the website you found them on. You can also report them here.
Look at their profile picture with a critical eye. Does it seem too good to be true? Does he look as perfect as a model? Well, that could be because the pic has been stolen from a real model's site and used as bait here.
Look at the way they use English. Does the spelling and tone of it change? Some scammers have teams of people working for them and the job of answering your profile and luring you in might get passed between people, so if the language or tone suddenly seems different, stop and think.
If you do get scammed, it doesn't mean you're an idiot: Lots of very smart people have been tricked into sending a lot of money to complete strangers, and never getting it back. If it happens to you, it sucks, but it just means you're human, and most of us like to live our lives trusting people rather than being suspicious of everyone.