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Online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love. Unfortunately, they have also become popular platforms for romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims. They establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. So in today’s article, we will talk about the signs of a romance scammer.
Usual Signs of a Romance Scammer
Romance scammers are experts in social manipulation. Their job is to sound convincing. The scammer will gain your trust before they exploit you. Be on the lookout for these red flags if you suspect you are being scammed:
1# They avoid meeting you in person – They may make a promise to see you, but they never do. They either cancel every time or offer excuses that delay meeting up (like financial troubles). Their cancellation is usually accompanied by a request for a short-term loan.
2# Scammers will request your financial assistance – This may be directly or indirectly requested. Scammers talk about money problems frequently in the hope that you’ll offer to help. Regardless of how dire a circumstance seems, always be suspicious of anyone who requests money.
3# They are quick to profess love – In a relatively short period, a romance scammer will express strong emotions. They callously use the word ‘love’ as a tactic to get you to blindly give up personal details.
These details may be answers to online security questions to access your accounts. Guard your personal information carefully. Be alert if a new love interest asks for personal details soon after contact.
4# They lure you outside the dating app – Chatting over text or email can actually be a red flag when you’re just getting to know someone. This may be an easy way for them to access your personal information.
If you wish to communicate outside of a dating site you can set up an alternate email address or utilize an instant messaging app. Make sure it isn’t connected to personal information like your primary email and phone number. Also, make sure to verify the email owner using the necessary tools and applications.
5# They avoid answering personal questions – But they will ask a lot of questions about you. They do not like to talk about themselves and the details they do tell you to seem made up and don’t reflect reality. For instance, they may claim they went to university but their spelling and grammar are poor.
How to Protect Yourself from Romance Scams
This problem should not be taken lightly. All of us can be a victim, there is no exception to that. Romance scammer target people of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. They are getting smarter and taking advantage of our new technology.
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They know how to make them look like the real thing and then catch you off guard when you are not expecting it. Their story is convincing, plus they know how to play on emotional triggers to get you to provide what they need.
So please be extra careful. Below is our checklist that you can use to remind yourself of the fact that romance scams do exist.
Do Not Share Personal Details
Avoid sharing information like full names, date of birth, and your address with strangers. You never know what they’ll do with it. Be careful when picking your username on dating websites. Do not include personal information like your location, for example, ‘ToriFromCalifornia’.
Do Not Send or Receive Money
Turn down requests to send or receive money from a person you just met online. This applies to forms such as cash, via bank account, credit card.
Use Rusted Dating Websites
Fraudsters tend to want to take their criminal activity off reputable dating websites. They will convince you to interact with them via social media, text messaging, or email. This is so that the dating website has no proof of their fraudulent dealings.
Always insist on communicating through the site’s messaging services. But if they still manage to send you an email, make sure to use tools that verify the email owner.
Think Twice Before Using Your Webcam
Be careful when using your webcam with a new online love interest. This also goes for people you may think you know well. The footage could be used against you. Use cyber tools to safeguard your camera devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
Carry out a Reverse Image Search
In this era, everyone has a digital presence waiting to be viewership. Investigate your cyber sweetheart by viewing their social media profiles. Look out for bare profiles that have no connections. Perform a reverse image search to see whether their photos are currently up on other sites. To do this:
Right-click an image of the person.
- Click “copy.”
- Visit images.google.com and paste the image.
- Google will show you the websites where the picture appears online.
Get a Second Opinion
Ask someone you trust for a second opinion. When emotions run deep, it may be hard to face reality. The thought of them not being who you think they are is not pleasant. Take a step back and ask a trusted friend or family member to give a second opinion about your relationship. Because they aren’t blind to reason, they may spot what you are too emotional to be too!
Trust Your Gut Instincts
If you feel like something is wrong, it most likely is. Be wary and careful.
Avoid Sending Compromising Media
Never send compromising photos or videos of yourself to someone. It is dangerous if you haven’t met them in person. These could later be used as blackmail. In worst-case scenarios, they could be sold onto the dark web.
Losing Money to a Romance Scammer
Reports show that last year a record $304 million was lost to scammers. The bottom line is: never send money or gifts to a “sweetheart” you haven’t met in person! Once your suspicions have been cleared and you are sure the person is a scammer, stop. Seize communication with the person immediately.
Romance scams have been ranked number one on total reported losses. That’s a lot of hearts to break and wallets to empty.
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Since last year reports of money lost on romance scams increased for every age group. In 2020 people ages 20 to 29 saw the most striking increase. The number of reports more than doubled since 2019. People ages 40 to 69 are the most likely to report losing money to romance scams. And people 70 and older reported the highest individual losses at $9,475.
Reporting an Online Dating Scam
It is usually impossible to recover money after you’ve been scammed. But reporting these incidents helps federal investigators look for commonalities. This may lead them to perpetrators.
Take the following steps if you suspect you’ve been scammed:
- You should contact your bank right away if you’ve sent money.
- Collect any records you have of your online relationship. This includes all conversations and transactions.
- Proceed to file a police report.
- Report the incident to the dating site, if that’s where the scam started.
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Falling in love is such a wonderful thing. But before you let someone steal your heart online, look out for warning signs. You wouldn’t want your love story to end in a cybercrime. After all, everyone deserves a happily ever after!