Romance Scams: 5 Signs Exposing Them

| October 30, 2019 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post





By Jen Donnel

In today’s digitally driven world, people of all ages use computers and smart-devices for business, leisure, and even dating. However, each time consumers access the internet; they are putting themselves at risk for what the FBI calls a romance scam. Worst of all, according to the FTC, people between the ages of 40 to 69 loose money to romance scams at twice the rate of people in their 20’s.

Even if you avoid online dating platforms, you may still encounter romance fraud. These scams are run by convincing con artists who use a “romance scammers playbook,” which tells them what to say. They target victims through email, games, social platforms, and online dating apps.

Victims fall for these scams as they believe they’re connecting with a respectable online connection, only to be left bankrupt or in financial ruin. Read along as we expose how sophisticated romance scams cost victims over $143 million in 2018 alone.

What Are Romance Scams and Why They May Be Targeting You

Romance scams occur when someone pretends to be looking for an online connection or serious relationship when all they want is your cash. Romance scammers catfish their victims by creating a fake persona using photographs of an attractive person, which they stole from the web.

The scammer tricks the person they’re online dating into sending them money (via gift cards, cash, or money wire). The consequences for victims of romance scams can be financially life altering and emotionally devastating. Many victims don’t report the crime, as they feel embarrassed or ashamed.

However, romance scams happen to consumers of all ages and demographics. While $143 million is a staggering amount of money lost, it only represents reported crimes. Romance scammers are good at what they do, and other scammers help them.

In an exclusive interview, one scammer shared notes from his very own scammers playbook. Many romance scammers live in places like Nigeria, which makes their crime harder to catch.

As mentioned, being under 69 and over 40 gives you twice the risk of being conned by a romance scammer. Why do these types of fraudsters target mature adults?

They know that people in mid-life are more likely to be financially established. Many single adults over 40 have been divorced and might be tempted by an attractive person saying everything right. By using pre-made answers to all of your pressing questions, romance scammers can seem like the perfect man or woman.

They may even tailor their personality to what you’re looking for. Essentially, it is easy to fall for a fantasy lover, and romance scams are fueled by the scammers desire for your money.

In 2018, the FTC received 21,000 reports. While the average victims lost about $2,600, the total loss per those complaints was $143 million. That large sum shows why being tricked online is no laughing matter.

5 Signs You’re Talking to a Romance Scammer

Although a romance scammer may lie that you’re their one and only, most con multiple people at once, to avoid being confused by a variety of victims, they keep their con consistent. The common lies they tell are helpful red flags that you’re dealing with a con artist.

Not Local

Romance scammers will claim to live far away or travel for work, business, or pleasure. Some of the common excuses they will give for being out of the area, include: Being in the military, working on an oil rig, traveling as a doctor, working as a model, etc.

Pro Tip: Choose to only date people you have met in person.

No Video Chat

Romance scammers have a million excuses ready-to-go in their romance playbook. Each lie explains why they can’t talk when you ask.

Their worst fear of all?

That you’ll ask them to video chat before they get money from you. That is why many fraudsters pretend to be stationed overseas or working on an oil rig. It’s the perfect cover for why they can’t talk to you!

Pro Tip: If someone is saying they want to spend their life with you, but can’t even video chat, you’re dealing with a scammer!

They Come on Way Too Fast (And Too Soon)

Romance scammers want you hooked on them immediately, so you pay your cash! They will declare their unconditional love or devotion and say they want to spend their life with you. As they have used a script to talk to you, you have no idea who you’re messaging.

They will try and get you off dating sites and reroute you to email, messenger, or text. That way you won’t notice when their account is flagged and removed, or if they’re talking to other people.

Pro Tip: Take new relationships at a slow pace and beware of anyone saying they want a lifelong connection with you immediately.

They Will Ask for Cash

Their first request for cash might be a small amount, $5, $10, $20. They might even ask for an online gift card instead of a money wire or bank transfer. Other catfish or scammers will ask for actual cash, mailed in an envelope.

Their reasons for asking for money will be diverse. They might say they need to buy a plane ticket (possibly even to come and see you), help paying for a surgery or medical expense, money for customs fees, help with legal feels, or payment for other travel documents.

Pro Tip: No one should ask you for cash online.

Never Meet

Romance scammers may make plans to meet you in person, but each plan will get canceled or rearranged. Often, they will have an elaborate excuse as to why they could not meet. More than likely, each delay will be connected to them needing more money from you.

Pro Tip: If someone keeps making plans to meet and then cancels them, they are probably catfishing you.

While the risks of being scammed online are genuine, financially, and emotionally, avoiding situations with red flags can make all the difference. Never (ever!) send cash, gift cards, or money wire to people you know solely through the internet. Always talk to a trusted friend or family member if you feel tempted to send money to someone you met online.

Have you ever fallen for a romance scam? Now that you know more, do you think that the scammer might have been using scripts from a romance playbook, to lure you in? Let us know in the comments!



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Category: Relationships