Tag Archives: Fraud

Online Romance Scams

Online romance continues to grow as a money-making opportunity; not only for the companies charging would-be daters, but the scammers that lie, cheat, and steal money as well as hearts. As technology grows, singles are more likely to pursue romantic liaisons online. It’s much easier to meet a wide variety of people with similar interests and you never have to leave home. The prospects are exciting, and some have found their soulmates online. Sadly, many seeking romance have been hoodwinked, robbed, and blackmailed.

The Sob Story

The first conversations typically start out well. The scammer comments on how attractive you are and how many things you have in common. Invariably, a sob story develops to gain pity and, perhaps, access to your bank account. Some common stories:

  • Spouse and/or children killed in an accident
  • Significant other dies from disease
  • Lonely military personnel on deployment
  • Sad retiree
  • Stranded overseas
  • Was robbed and needs help

The potential romantic interest is often very good at garnering sympathy and playing upon the target’s ego with phrases like, “with you I think I can live again” or “you’re the one I’ve been waiting for.” Highly sensitive people tend to be more susceptible to this line of trickery because they genuinely feel bad for the scammer.

The Giveaway

It was once much easier to determine if someone was a scammer by doing a reverse look up on their phone. Caller ID apps can identify the region from which someone is calling. Common regions for scammers include Nigeria and Jamaica. Those tools are still valuable, but scammers are making it harder by employing local numbers or ones that will not send up any red flags. Still, if an online dating prospect gives his (or her) phone number, reverse search it immediately to verify the information you’ve been given.

Another giveaway is the time zone. If your romantic interest is only online in the middle of the night or at some other illogical time, take note. You may ask on occasion what time it is if you suspect the person is not located in the U.S.

Language is another telltale sign that someone isn’t being up front about his or her nationality. If the person claims to be American or from some other English-speaking country, it’s easy to tell by the way they write or talk. Bad English, typos, and poorly written sentences are a dead giveaway that the person does not speak the language.

 

Protect Yourself

There are many ways to protect yourself in an online romance situation from using a nom de plum to using an anonymous email or phone number, if in fact you give out that information at all. Others may include:

  • Never give out your social security number, bank, or credit card information
  • Refuse to transfer money or make a financial transaction on behalf of the love interest
  • Do not reveal your street address
  • Don’t pay up front for a promise
  • Do not post any compromising photos or videos
  • Report any suspicious activity to the website and local police.