Romance Scams – Avoid the Trap

The internet has changed the way we live our lives. From banking to dating, everything can be done via the internet and it suits our busy schedules as well. While online dating can be a fun venture to find the perfect partner, it can turn into a nightmare if you don’t know the pitfalls present in the process.

The scammers operating fake profiles on social media platforms and other dating sites have gone up exponentially. As a result, the number of victims also went up and many people have lost tens of thousands of dollars to them. We are not saying that online dating itself doesn’t work.

However, if you don’t follow certain safety precautions, the possibility of losing money is ever present. To learn about the common ways used by scammers to entice and loot the victims, continue reading this detailed blog post. 

Romance Scams

What exactly is a Romance Scam?

Any fake profile on social media apps or dating websites that loots the people looking for a companion is categorised as a Romance Scam. Using history as a guide, the crooks operating behind the scenes seem to be located in foreign countries and they usually target people in the western hemisphere.

The scam itself is very sophisticated in its nature and it also takes a long time for the culprits to earn the trust of the users. However, once they have the individuals hooked on, they will use a variety of tactics to extract anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars from the victims.

According to some reports, most developed countries like the UK, US and other European nations lose millions of dollars to scams related to Dating and Romance. So, be very cautious while using any online app and never let your guard down.

How do Romance Scammers reach their victims?

This is a mysterious question which apart from the scammers no one can answer. Looking back at the data we have gathered over the years, usually the connection is established via social media platforms and dating sites. The crooks will create attractive looking profiles which contain all the trending aspects such as popular interest, matching social circle, etc,.

Once an individual has fallen in the trap, they will get overly emotional with them and try to establish passive aggressive dominance. They might even ask the victims to do small tasks for them such as rerouting a package or delivering something for them to build up rapport. After they gather enough details about the person on the other end, they will take it to the next level and ask for money directly or indirectly.

Common Traits

Most of the scams have a certain ever present pattern and romance scams are no exception. In this category, the two dead giveaways are sense of emergency and desperate communication attempts. For example, scammers will usually pretend to have some sort of personal emergency or going through a tough time and ask their counterpart to help them financially.

If the user ignores the calls or the messages, then they usually will become desperate and they will try their best to make their presence felt. Nonetheless, people should never let these tactics fool them, because if you ever believe their stories and send them money, then you will never get it back. Below, we have outlined a few more classic traits.

Fake Profiles and Catfishing – Like we mentioned before, the very first move of the scammers would be to create a loveable profile by using fake information and pictures. They might purchase a stock image or just steal it from somewhere else and use it for their own benefit. Eitherway, the profiles would be too perfect and it wouldn’t contain much specific information about their whereabouts.

If you like someone or if you have received any messages from strangers, then take it slow and try to know more about their background before proceeding. Remember, there is no point in rushing things. 

Asking for Money – The crooks are masters when it comes to deception. From coming up with fake heart breaking stories to narratives, they can literally turn anything to their favor. Their most common script contains scenarios involving a medical situation, going through operations themselves or death of a loved one.

Sometimes, they might even use emotional tactics and talk about their hypothetical situations in life such as going through periods of financial uncertainty, heartbreaks, etc,. However, in the end they will all circle back to the same thing which is money. To keep yourself safe, always be vigilant and never let these made up stories affect your decision making process. 

Luring Victims to Unknown Locations – This is a new trend even in the Romance Scam niche. Crooks orchestrating this type of crime usually make the most amount of money. They start out by buying gifts for the users and earning their trust by showering them with other expensive gifts.

Unsuspecting individuals will think that they have found out the perfect partner and would be eager to do anything to get in touch with them. As the victims are emotionally invested, the crooks can get them to any place they want and once they show up, the story will never end well. The risk present is clearly enormous and you should not mess around with things or people that you are not sure about.

Real Examples of Romance Scams

On May 1, 2023 one of our partners received the following complaint from a person who claims being scammed for more than $6,500:

A man pretended to be a soldier who was deployed and needed help getting back to the United States. He claimed that he was injured in a car accident and broke his leg, and needed assistance.

Safety Measures

The rules you need to follow to maintain a down low profile online are simple. For starters, never share too much details about your personal life. Do not put posts which reveal the location of your house, your social circle or basically anything else which can be used to tackle you.

Also, do not share your sensitive information with strangers you came across online. More importantly, if any person is trying to get into your good books way too fast and are showing unusual interest, then double check their background or simply ignore interacting with them.

If you really want to meet someone you know via the internet, then choose a crowded location so that the probability of something bad happening will be low. At any period of time, if you feel insecure or notice something which shouldn’t be happening, then inform the appropriate authorities and do not forget to contact local law enforcement agencies. 

How to recover Money from Romance Scams?

For some reasons, the public think that money lost to these types of scams are not recoverable. However, that is not the case and clearly there are plenty of ways one can employ depending upon his or her situation. For starters, if the payment is done through credit or debit cards, then a mere call to the bank people might be enough to find all the relevant information required.

Note that banks may or may not be able to help recover your funds, but once you have the recipient account details, you can provide it to the recovery agencies to track the funds. For the transactions done through other methods such as gift cards, Western Union and cryptocurrencies the recovery process is a bit complicated.

To know the best options to get back stolen money depending upon your personal case, get in touch with our experts by filling the contact form on our website. All of our services are free and we never charge for consultation. 

Report Scams to Authorities

As the Romance Scams are becoming more common, the authorities are doing their best to educate the users about the threats present in the sector. Compared to the vast number of dating sites present, it is indeed a hard task for the officials to keep everyone updated. If you have come across any scams, then we encourage you to report them to your local Cyber Crime unit either via email or phone.

Alternatively, you can use the official websites to raise the complaints. If the authorities don’t take action immediately or focus on your specific case, then do not get disappointed and more importantly, don’t give up. Sooner or later the crooks will be caught and eventually they have to face the consequences.

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