What Are Romance Scams?
Scammers take advantage of people who are looking for romantic partners, often by way of dating websites, apps, or social media. Romance scams happen when the victims are fooled and deceived into a ‘false’ relationship perpetrated by fraudsters who’s only goal is to steal their money or personal information. They play on emotional triggers to help commit their scam. Romance scams are usually carried out by criminals who are using fake profiles.
What Are The Signs To Look Out For?
Scammers are very experienced in spinning a story to tempt and ultimately trap their victims. However, there are some red flags that are going to help you spot to them. They will include some or all of the following:
- They prefer to move their method of communicating away from the dating websites.
- They may suggest that you switch to instant messaging, text, or phone calls as an alternative.
- They will ask quite a few personal questions about you.
- They will avoid answering personal questions relating to themselves. The details that they actually share with you appear to be made up or they don’t reflect reality. For example, they may state that they have a college education, but they use poor spelling and grammar when communicating.
- They will attempt to establish a connection or bond quickly. For example, they might give you a lovable and charming pet name.
- They will ask you for financial assistance. They may also tell you that they are having money problems in the hope that you’ll offer to help them out.
- You will never be able to meet them in person. They may promise that they want to see you in person. However, they will offer excuses which delay this, such as their financial troubles.
- You carry out a reverse image search of their profile photo and it appears to actually belong to some other person.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Dating websites and applications can be effective and helpful tools for meeting someone new. It would be smart though, to be very careful when you are communicating with potential new romantic interests. Here are some tips to help you to protect yourself:
Don’t Share Your Personal Details
If you decide to share your personal information like your full name, date of birth, and home address with a stranger, you will not know what they are going to do with it. You actually should not share personal details online with people that you do already know, as well. You could end up sending it to a fraudster who is pretending to be them. You also need to be cautious when choosing your user name on dating websites. You should not include personal information like your like where you live. (for example, “LindaFromSeattle).
Don’t Send Or Receive Money
You need to avoid sending money to or receiving it from anyone that you have met online. It doesn’t matter how convincing their story may be. This includes cash, as well as your bank account, credit card, or other personal financial details. If the request is coming from someone you think you know, get in contact with them offline to be sure that it is actually them.
Use Trusted Dating Websites
Fraudsters and scammers have a tendency to want to take their criminal activity off the reputable dating websites as quickly as possible. They are likely going to try to convince you to communicate with them through social media or text messaging. They do this so that the dating website will have no proof of them asking for money from you. If you are in contact with someone on this type of website, use the website’s messaging services to communicate with them.
Do Not Share Personal Contact Information
Use a dating website that will permit you to keep your personal details private until the point at which you are ready to share them. These will include your contact details, such as your email address, phone number, or home address.
Careful Consideration Before Using Your Webcam
Be careful if you are going to use your webcam with a new online love interest, even if you think that you know this person well. The film could be used against you. This pertains to cameras on all devices, including computers and laptops to Smartphone’s and tablets.
Trust Your Instincts
If you get the feeling that something is wrong, it may be. You need to be very careful. How many times have you felt that something was wrong only to discover that it really was. It never hurts for you to take a step back.
How To Report The Scam
If you think that you have been scammed, report it to the website, application, or social media website where the scammer first approached you. Let them know the scammer’s profile name and any other details that you can remember that will help them to stop others from being scammed. This will enable the websites to shut down any fraudulent or misrepresented accounts.
If you discover that you are a victim of an online dating or romance scam, you can take the following steps:
- You will need to discontinue all forms of contact and block phone numbers, Instant Messaging accounts, and email addresses.
- You should keep copies of all communications that you have had with the scammer.
- Report the incident to the dating and relationship website.
- Report the matter to your local police department.
- Report the situation to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
- Report the matter to the Federal Trade Commission using the following information:
Federal Trade Commission
Bureau of Consumer Protection
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
TTY: (866) 653-4261
Thanks for taking the time to read my post on How To Spot And Avoid Romance Scams. I hope it provided needed information for the reader and could possibly help in some way. At this point let me say that there are honest, legitimate dating and relationship websites available. They can provide a service to people who may looking for the special person to help complete their life. I met my wife on a dating website and we have been happily married for almost 14 years. Please feel free to leave Comments or Questions below. Take care.