Romance scams are a big problem on the internet nowadays as more and more people are going online. We'll examine this scam and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
What are romance scams?
Romance scams are when a criminal assumes a fake online identity to trap a victim into the illusion of a romance or online relationship. They then use that trust to steal or manipulate victims into sending them money.
What are the signs and warnings of a romance scam?
- The scam artist will often say they work in building and construction and are often traveling, which offers a plausible excuse for why they can't meet in person.
- The scammer will often be quick to "fall in love" and may declare their love in what appears to be a very public manner. They may often talk about fate or destiny, bringing people together. The scammer may also propose marriage in a very short period of time.
- The scammer's online profile is inconsistent or doesn't add up. Do they have other common social media accounts? Do you only see the same 1-2 pictures everywhere? Do their photos reflect their hobbies and what you know about them?
- Asking for money. As to be expected, this is the biggest red flag. Some of the most common reasons are:
- Paying for travel expenses, often purportedly to see the victim.
- Paying for medical expenses, often emergencies.
- Payment for gambling or other dates to remedy a situation preventing them from starting their new life with the victim.
- They often try to move conversations to more private or anonymous platforms. You may talk to someone on a dating site, and they may immediately start trying to get you to chat over Snapchat, Signal, Facebook etc.
How to protect yourself against online romance scammers:
- Slow down: Anybody genuinely interested and honest will not mind someone taking their time and getting to know the other person. Rushing into any relationship is never a good idea.
- Never, NEVER send money via a wire transfer to someone you do not explicitly trust, and always verify who is sending you the request by contacting that person directly.
- Cross-check and verify who the person is that you are talking to; google them and look at their other social media accounts.
- Request a video chat with the person you're talking to, ask them to show you where they live and details about things they have previously shared with you.