posted on Thursday, February 11, 2021 in Fraud
Millions of people around the globe use dating websites and mobile apps to search for romantic partners. Sometimes, couples meet using technology and it’s love at first sight. But not everyone is actually looking for Cupid’s arrow to strike. Many are scammers aiming to meet singles for money, not for love.
How does the Romance Scam work?
Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim.
Scammers work to soften their victims’ hearts and open their wallets by using these two common tactics:
- Daily communication via e-mail, text messages, and video chats to build trust
- Use of emotional manipulation, e.g., guilt, desire, or claims of insta-love
Scam artists often say they are in the building and construction industry and are engaged in projects outside the U.S. that makes it easier to avoid meeting in person—and more plausible when they ask for money for a medical emergency or unexpected legal fee.
If someone you meet online needs your bank account information to deposit money, they are most likely using your account to carry out other theft and fraud schemes.
We’ve heard about romance scammers asking their targets for money to:
- pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
- pay for surgery or other medical expenses
- pay customs fees to retrieve something
- pay off gambling debts
- pay for a visa or other official travel documents
Scammers ask people to pay:
- by wiring money
- with reloadable cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam
Tips to prevent falling for romance scams:
- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
Here’s the bottom line: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
How to report the scam?
If you have fallen victim to the Romance Scam, please contact us at 866.360.5370 or stop by your local branch to speak with a C1st Representative. You can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission to help protect others.