Romance Scams: How to Protect Yourself

Online dating is nothing new. There are a lot of websites and apps catering to the experience.

In the digital age, people have become a lot more busy with their careers and other experiences catered to them by different businesses and companies. This is the reason why people prefer to meet others online first before deciding whether friendships or relationships with them are worth pursuing or not.

These times, it seems like time is the most expensive commodity. People actually know what they want, and they do not want their time wasted.

What makes online dating a unique experience depends on what the website or app you use offers. From the UI, features, and whatnot, it seems like dating sites try to one up each other.

However, let us focus on the experience of online dating itself. There are a lot of people out there desperate to find the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.

Because a lot of them feel like dating someone in their area to be a bust, they decide to look at other options. And the best way to find connections these days is by the internet.

Everyone seems to have a smartphone these days anyway, making online dating a lot more easier and accessible to people wanting to meet their match online.

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What are Romance Scams?

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Whether you’re looking for a casual date or a serious commitment, online dating has quickly become one of the most common methods to find a possible mate.

A victim of a romance scam can think they’ve found their soul mate on the internet, only to find out that the other person is actually a con artist communicating through a phony profile. They work their way into the victim’s confidence in order to steal money from them.

It’s unfortunate that con artists use dating websites to steal people’s personal information and money.

Romance scams are only one type of internet deception perpetrated by con artists who seem to be interested in you romantically in order to trick you into sending them money or giving up your personal information.

Criminal acts like catfishing and love bombing are commonplace on dating apps and social media. Romance scams prey on people’s desire for affection.

Scammers took advantage of the fact that many individuals were single and searching for love during the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Are you looking for love online? The last thing you want is to fall victim to a con artist.

How does the scam work?

In recent years, the use of dating apps has skyrocketed. Sites catering specifically to those with similar interests promise to bring their users together.

There is a consistent pattern among online dating frauds that persists regardless of the platform.

  • To begin, the con artist will make a fictitious account. They’ll take a picture from someone else’s  social media or dating page and use it for themselves. Catfishing refers to the practice of creating a false online persona in order to lure a victim.
  • As soon as a connection is made, the con artist rushes things forward. After a brief declaration of love, they may suggest switching to another messaging service.
  • After they have your confidence, they’ll start asking for sensitive information, presents, and eventually money. They’ll come up with intricate excuses for why they need money. Scammers on dating sites increasingly target their victims by asking them to download an app or join a service that requires them to buy cryptocurrencies.
  • No matter how long your “relationship” lasts, they will always find an excuse to avoid meeting you in person or even talking to you over video chat. If you ask for their contact information, you’ll never get a response.
  • The ultimate aim of these schemes might be very different. Identity theft is only one of the many possible outcomes if the con artist is successful in tricking you into visiting a phishing site. You’ll feel terrible about yourself and could even lose the money or gifts you sent them if anything goes wrong.

Some Examples of Romance Scams

Phishing

Online dating applications can be used by identity thieves as part of a larger, more complex deception that can have real-world consequences.

A phony profile will ask you for personal information. You may find some of these inquiries familiar from previous dates. But, they may be used by fraudsters to break into your accounts.

To “prove” you aren’t hiding any other connections from them, some con artists may even try to persuade you to provide personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) and even bank account details.

All of this data increases your chances of experiencing identity theft. Scammers may empty your bank account or even get loans and credit cards in your name if they get their hands on only a few pieces of personal information.

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Money scams

The greatest threat of internet dating is being duped into giving money or disclosing sensitive financial information. Swindlers ask for personal information or financial resources in exchange for “help” in committing fraud.

Scammers prey on users of long-term relationship-focused platforms like match.com to steal their money. The con artist will pretend to be in a dire situation and earn your trust before asking for your assistance.

Scammers frequently solicit their victims for financial or material support.

Catfishing

The practice of creating a convincingly fraudulent online dating profile in order to “hook” an unsuspecting victim is known as “catfishing.”

Though they know they are being duped, catfishing victims may persist in the relationship out of a misguided belief that it is genuine.

The unfortunate reality is that your “ideal match” may start demanding for private details or money.

Do a Google reverse image search if you suspect a profile is making unauthorized use of photographs. This will lead you to the several other sites where the images are hosted.

If the ads appear on other platforms or in print publications, you may assume they are fraudulent.

Inheritance scams

This is a variation of a widespread email scam that has recently begun to appear on dating platforms. As soon as they have the victim’s confidence, the con artist will tell them that they are entitled to a significant sum of money as a result of an inheritance.

Nevertheless, there is a release charge that must be paid before the money may be claimed.

The scammer will ask for the victim’s financial assistance in order to collect on the inheritance, and then promise to not only reimburse them, but also give them a portion of the windfall. Of course, this is all a con, and after money is sent to the fraudsters, the victims seldom hear back from them again.

Never give money to a someone you’ve never met, and be careful if they refuse to see you in person.

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What to Do When You Spot a Romance Scam

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Here are some things you can do in order to protect yourself from romance scams.

If you suspect a scam, let the dating app or social networking site know.

If the con artist approached you using a social networking platform or dating app, then you should file a complaint with the service. Despite your embarrassment at having fallen for the fraud, you owe it to others to teach them how to avoid falling victim to romance scams too.

Scammers who prey on victims’ emotions through romantic connections must be prevented from accessing social media platforms, despite the fact that they may just start new fictitious profiles.

Get in touch with the authorities about the fraud.

The filing of a report is often avoided by victims, despite its importance. As scammers typically target many people, reporting the incident might potentially save others from becoming victims.

Avoid sending any kind of payment at any costs.

Any new romantic interest who immediately brings up the topic of money should raise red flags. Also, if the supposed visitor wants to come to you but demands money beforehand, you should be suspicious. Never transmit money via an untraceable means like a prepaid card, wire transfer, or cash app.

Refrain from communicating with such individuals.

If you aren’t 100 percent positive the connection is fake, blocking the fraudster could be challenging. It’s understandable if ending what seems like a perfect relationship is difficult; the other person has been deceiving you.

In contrast, if you suspect a love scam, you should immediately cease all investigation, end the relationship, and ban the offending individual from all of your social media accounts, as well as their phone and email.

While you’re at it, update your dating app and/or social media account passwords to something more secure and consider using two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access even if an attacker has stolen crucial information from you.

Run away as fast as you can.

It’s not easy to realize that the love you thought you had wasn’t true after experiencing heartbreak and doubt. You should cut off all contact with that individual immediately and never look back if you value your sanity.

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