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. 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
They will ask a lot of questions about you. They do not like to talk about themselves and the details they do tell you seem made up and don’t reflect reality. For instance, they may claim they went to university but their spelling and grammar are poor.
Reports rank romance scams number one on total reported losses of online scams. That’s a lot of hearts to break and wallets to empty. 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.
It is usually impossible to recover money after you’ve been scammed. But reporting these incidents helps 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.
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.