Finding love online is becoming more and more commonplace. In fact, you probably know at least one couple who met online. However, the rise in popularity of online dating has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of romance scams taking place. Dating and romance scams are nothing new, but with so many people looking for love online, they have become that much more attractive and accessible to online criminals. Plus, the countless real online love stories only serve to make this scam even easier for criminals to pull off.
By educating yourself and those around you about the tactics online fraudsters use, you can drastically decrease the chances that you or they will become a victim. Although the details vary, most online dating and romance scams follow a similar pattern. It begins with a hook. The would-be suitor makes contact and uses something in common to spark a friendship or romantic relationship. The relationship ramps up quickly with scammers typically sending lots of messages throughout the day over a period of weeks or even months.
Romance SCAM Uncovered
She explains that ideal targets might be those who are recently divorced or widowed. As such, they become vulnerable and are more likely to fall for these scams. An initial test might involve sending a small amount of money. At some point, the victim may be asked to send something to the scammer that can later be used against them, such as compromising photos or videos.
Sometimes the message history is enough to use as a threat, especially if the victim is married or in a long-term relationship and is hiding this online relationship from their significant other. Eventually, they are asked to send large amounts of money or to carry out something illegal. They may do this willingly out of love or compassion for the scammer. Or they may do it because at this point they are being threatened.
In a surprising number of cases, the scams continue for prolonged periods for the simple fact that the victim is too embarrassed to admit to friends, family, and law enforcement that they have fallen prey to a scammer. Even more surprising, in some cases, victims know that they are being scammed but are still in love with the scammer and continue to send money anyway.
This goes to show two things: the manipulative power these criminals hold and the vulnerability of the victims they target. Scammers are very clever and prey on vulnerable people.
Even so, there are often tell-tale signs that a potential love prospect is not being up front. Here are some of the signs to look out for:.
Online dating scams typically involve someone creating a fake profile, be it on a dating site or a social media platform. Many will claim to be from a Western country but currently working overseas. Scammers will often create multiple profiles using the same stolen images.
American hypnotherapist, Dr. Steve G Jones has had his identity stolen for this purpose multiple times. Scammers use his videos and images to create fake online profiles. Some also use his real name and personal information.
His images have been used so many times, he decided to create a PSA to let everyone know and warn them of the dangers of befriending strangers on social media.
Romance dating scams
Scamalytics scans many of the most popular dating websites to find out what the most common scam profiles consist of. A typical male profile would be in his late forties, be a widower, and have a high-paid job. A typical female would also be well-paid, but be in her late twenties and never married. Additionally, certain Facebook groups dedicated to raising awareness flag scam profiles.
Some people suggest trying to arrange a meeting as early as possible, although this seems risky.
A better option might be to try to arrange a video call early on and see how they react. Scammers often work in groups posing as a single person. Romance scamming is such a big business that people even profit off of writing scripts for criminals to follow. One UK woman was jailed for two years for writing such scripts.
Not all scammers will bother paying for original content and things like poetry and romantic verses can easily be lifted from the internet. When it comes to online public profiles, you should be very cautious about the pieces of information you divulge.
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For people conducting these scams, this is often their full-time job. A British Columbia man was in an online relationship for just six weeks before he started handing over money to his suitor.
One romance scam victim described the feeling as similar to being brainwashed. This can start out very innocently. But it can quickly ramp up.
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A common request for money can involve the scammer coming to visit the victim. They might say they need money for flights or other expenses.
Other large sums might be requested for investing in a business or for medical costs. The urgency of these demands tends to ramp up and can even become threatening. One common request is to send money for fees with the pretense that the victim will be compensated with additional often huge sums of money.
Feb 12, Paste the text into a search engine and see whether the same words show up on websites devoted to exposing romance scams. Do cut off contact immediately if you begin to suspect that the individual may be a swindler. Do notify the dating site or the maker of the dating app on which you met the scammer. Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging. They often claim to be from Australia or another western country, but travelling or working overseas. In , almost 15, complaints categorized as romance scams or confidence fraud were reported to IC3 (nearly 2, more than the previous year), and the losses associated with those complaints.
She believed she was set to receive a sum many times higher than that in compensation from the Nigerian court system. There is some good news in that companies like Western Union are being held accountable for helping scammers.
As such, they are becoming more strict about the transfers they allow to go through. Of course, there are always other ways to transfer money.
But this stuff happens all the time during online dating scams. Similarly, you should never receive or sends goods or money on behalf of someone else. Perhaps another reason these women easily become victims is that many are less tech-savvy but at the same quite affluent.
Once the victim is sufficiently groomed, they are tested. Initial tests are simple. They can, for instance, involve the victim to send money, say, to help the would-be suitor fix their car. When things get a little bit more seriousthe scammer may ask the victim to send them things that could later be used against the victim.
This can be some compromising videos or photo leading to potential identity theft. The scammer will later use these to threaten the victim, especially when the victim is in some long-term relationship or marriage and wants to hide the relationship. Sometimes, message histories can serve this purpose. As the online relationship gets deeper, the victim is eventually asked to send money in large sums.
Surprisingly, in some cases, even when the victim realizes they are being conned, the scam continues because the victim is too embarrassed to tell family and friends or report to law enforcement agencies.
So they continue to send money. This shows the manipulative powers online dating scammers can have and the vulnerability of some of the victims they target. However, this is far from the truth. Usually, online dating involves individuals creating profiles which are often fake on a dating website or some social media sites.
This is called catfishing. Some of the most common guises include medical professionals, aid workers, and military personnel because victims are more likely to trust individuals in these professions. In most cases, romance scammers will create several profiles on different sites using stolen images.
Fortunately, today, there are various online tools that can help you in case you are suspicious. You can, for instance, you can use a very useful service called BeenVerified. BeenVerified run total checks about anyone on the net and prove if they are real or not with a whole heap of real information. You can visit the website here or read more about BeenVerified further down this article.
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This is especially the case if they are purporting to be university educated or from some Western country. If you have doubts, consider testing on knowledge of the area the person is claiming to come from.
Note also that many scammers work in groups but pose as a single person. So changes in such things like grammar, use of emoticons, and tone can also be a red flag that you are potentially talking to a scammer.
Scammers know how to start a conversation with you and spark a friendship. From your religion, hobbies, a line of work, etc. It does not take long before unsuspecting victims start divulging more information which the scammer uses to further the friendship or romantic relationship. In fact, some scammers will even adjust their profiles, so they are the perfect person you have been looking for. Online dating and romance scam has become such a lucrative business that some people now write scripts for scammers for money.
A UK woman was recently jailed for writing such scamming scripts. Fortunately, you can easily check such content online to find out whether or not they are used elsewhere. Scamming is often a full-time job for most of these fraudsters. And because they are usually trying to scam multiple people at a time, they are always rushing things.
They will, therefore, ramp up the relationship quickly so that they can get to where they are now actually able to profit.
It is very common for scammers to shower their victims with affection and love. They will message and even call constantly. This is called love bombing. It is such a serious behavior that victims sometimes feel like they had been brainwashed. It is advisable to keep your conversation on the dating website because most of them look out for suspect activity.
Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim's affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and. Dec 21, Dating and romance scams are nothing new, but with so many people looking for love online, they have become that much more attractive and accessible to online criminals. Plus, the countless real online love stories only serve to make this scam even easier for criminals to pull multicoingames.com: Aimee O'driscoll. Romance Scam Busters & Online Dating Scams Online dating and romance has become common nowadays. While there are people that have found love through online dating (you probably know some), its rapid increase in popularity over recent years has seen a dramatic rise in online romance scams.
This often starts very innocently. As noted earlier, romance scammers will start asking for small amounts of money to fix their car, buy an elderly relative some food, etc. It then quickly ramps up. A common way of asking for money involves the perpetrator asking to visit the victim.
They will then say they need some money for the flight and other expenses. In some cases, when the victim gets comfortable, the romance scammer can even ask for a large sum of money to start a business most of the time asked to be sent via Western Union. Sometimes, it is medical costs or any other excuse.
And the urgency of such demands often ramps up and may even start becoming threatening. Another common request for money involves sending money for some fees or charges in the pretense that a victim will be compensated with, say, an additional usually huge sum of money.
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There is some good news though. Some companies such as Western Union are these days looking out for such cases because they are being held accountable by regulatory bodies for helping scammers.
They are, therefore, becoming very strict on the money transfers they allow. There are so many suspicious and potentially illegal activities that romance scammers can ask victims to do.
In , people reported losing $ million to romance scams. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts. The scammers strike up a relationship with.
For instance, they may ask them to pass some goods or money across countries. One British woman named Sharon Armstrong learned she had been scammed the hard way. She ended up getting a two-year jail term in Argentina for trying to smuggle cocaine.
If an individual is asking you to carry out any such suspicious activities, chances are they are fraudsters, and they will get you into trouble if you are not careful. As pointed out earlier, some scammers work in some highly organized groups.
Sometimes, victims may be contacted by different people posing as the same person. More elaborate fraudsters may introduce victims to other characters posing as business partners, travel agents, lawyers, bank managers, or just friends.
And this usually happens too early into the relationship. In case it happens to you, be aware; you may be dealing with a con. These romance scammers are always good at making promises and having excuses for not doing what they promised. They can be so elaborate that they seem believable. And then the excuses become the gateway to ask for more money.
One of the most common scenarios involves the scammer promising to visit the victim. The victim is so excited and perhaps even tells family and friends about the visit by their girlfriend or boyfriend.
With hopes for a real-life meeting, the desperate victim keeps sending more money even when the excuses are getting more and more farfetched. As I sum up, it is important to note that while this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the most common tactics employed by online dating scammers to defraud unsuspecting victims.