Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Flower sales are about to quadruple while available tables in our favorite restaurants are about to become a rare commodity. For some the holiday will mean an evening of good food, good wine, and good company. For others, the “greeting card” holiday will only accentuate a preexisting feeling of isolation. Love is in the air but so is loneliness and scammers know it.
Romance scammers are prowling about the various social media platforms looking to pounce on some vulnerable and unsuspecting soul. They play on the emotions of their victims who quite often are grieving the loss of a spouse or have just gone through a painful divorce. A common tactic implemented by romance scammers is to capitalize on the raw emotions of their victims and manipulate them into opening up quickly. They tend to skip the traditional getting know you period and will quite often ask to move in or propose marriage early on in the relationship. They tell their victims they need money to come out for a visit or to pay for relocation. Of course they don’t show up and then they offer some kind of excuse for why they were unable to come. Often, their excuses will come attached to another request for money.
A common scam being reported is “the wrong number scam.” Scammers pick a target and send them a text message which appears to be intended for someone else. When the target responds by telling the sender they have the wrong number the scammer will feign some embarrassment for the mistake but then try to strike up a conversation. Over the course of a few days the scammer will steer the conversation towards romance in order to extract personal and intimate information which can be used later to manipulate the target into giving them money.
There is no shortage of scammers willing to manipulate your emotions for their own selfish desires but there are things you can do to protect yourself from falling victim to a romance scam.
- Use reputable and established dating services if you intend to date online. Before signing up for any dating service read the various ratings and reviews from other people who have used that service.
- Be suspicious of anyone who tries to communicate directly with you outside of the online dating service you met them on.
- Be cautious when it comes to posting personal information about yourself or your relationship status online. Scammers will use that information to manipulate you.
- Scammers often find pictures of young attractive models which they will use as their profile picture or to send out when a photo is requested. Use Google Reverse Image Search to see if the image you have been provided has been used elsewhere. If it has been used elsewhere, you are likely being scammed.
- Copy and paste a potential date’s bio into the Google search to see if it was previously used with a different profile.
- Beware of anyone who requests personal or financial information from you and never send money or financial assistance to anyone you have only talked to online or over the phone.
- If an online relationship seems too good to be true or seems to be progressing too quickly it could be a scam; proceed with caution.
- Be suspicious of anyone who agrees to meet you in person but always has an excuse for why they can’t, especially if the excuse comes with a request for money.
Romance scams often go unreported because of the personal nature of each situation. Victims feel ashamed and embarrassed for allowing themselves to become so vulnerable. As difficult as it may be, we encourage victims to report these crimes as soon as they become aware of them. The perpetrators of these scams need to be stopped and brought to justice.
For more information on these and other types of scams please visit: