Sure, you can find love online. You could also find yourself falling for a clever con artist who will gain your trust and rob you blind. It happens all too often. For the past two years, more money has been lost to romance scams than any other type of scam reported to the FTC. Romance scammers post their fake profiles on popular dating websites and apps. They also target people through direct messaging on social media sites. Their goal is to steal your heart and then steal your money.
Don’t let the romance scam break your heart
Are you dating or talking online to someone who says they are a military member? Have they asked you for funds or documents? Officials and websites like Military. Victims of these online military scams often think they are doing a good deed by helping a military member.
Victims may encounter these romance scammers on a legitimate dating Speaks with a foreign or regional accent that does not match the person’s story.
Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the 1 tip for avoiding a romance scam. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.
The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. Scammers ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous.
What You Need to Know About Romance Scams
Where the golden rule rules and we take a human approach to all we do. Basically, we’re just a bunch of people helping people get to the life they want.
Thanks to online dating scams, each year thousands of Americans who are searching for love end up with nothing but a broken heart and an empty wallet. While online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love and friendship, they’ve unfortunately also become popular tools for fraudsters known as romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money.
According to the Better Business Bureau, victims in the U. Older users, in particular, are more often targeted by this type of scam — and most don’t realize they are a victim until it is too late. We also have information about how to report a dating scammer if you or someone you love has fallen victim to one.
Anatomy of Online Dating Scams – How Not to Become a Victim of Cyber-romance
That may come as no surprise since tens of millions of U. In fact, the Identity Theft Resource Center, which I lead, has received calls from victims of online dating scams. In one instance, a male victim met someone through an online dating service.
Romance scams, also called confidence scams, are when a bad actor deceives a Claims to be from the US but currently living, working, or traveling abroad It’s also a good idea to do a reverse Google image search on the contact’s photo.
If you thought online dating websites are on the rise, than you would be right. However, not everyone who creates a profile on these sites has honorable intentions. Most dating scams start innocently enough. Scammers contact victims via social media sites or through email, claiming common interests or a distant, mutual connection—such as an introduction at a wedding or other large gathering.
Other scam artists make their fake profiles look as appealing as possible and wait from victims to reach out and begin the conversation. Once a scammer has you hooked, the possibilities are limitless, but here are a few of the most common variations:. Fraudsters may use the name and likeness of actual soldier or create an entirely fake profile. They send out legitimate-seeming emails, introducing themselves as being near the end of their careers, often with older children and typically widowed under tragic circumstances.
The emails are riddled with military jargon, titles and base locations, which sound impressive. In many cases, these scammers work with one or more accomplices who pose as doctors or lawyers to extract a steady stream of money. In many cases, military scams drag on for months or even years before victims finally get suspicious. The scammer then reveals their true identity.
They claim to have made a video recording and threaten to share the video with mutual social media friends or post the recording online, unless the victim sends money.
Online Dating? How to Avoid Romance Scams
A failed relationship could give you a broken heart, but it shouldn’t leave you out of pocket. Scammers are drawn to dating sites because they know that the people on there are looking to make a personal connection, and they can use this to their advantage. The catfishing from the original documentary started on Facebook , but you can also be catfished on dating apps like Tinder, in chatrooms or even through fake video chats on Skype.
If you come across a fake profile you should report it to the dating site or social network wherever possible. Where catfishing can become illegal is if the scammer uses the fake profile to trick you into sending them money.
A cybersecurity report outlines the tactics of Scarlet Widow, an alleged romance scam ring operating out of Nigeria, after an FTC report called.
How the Scam Works Most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites created by stealing photos and text from real accounts. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship with you, exchanging photos and romantic messages, even talking on the phone or through a webcam. Just when the relationship seems to be getting serious, your new sweetheart has a health issue or family emergency, or wants to plan a visit. No matter the story, the request is the same: they need money.
Or the scammer stops communicating altogether. Tips to Spot This Scam Too hot to be true. Scammers offer up good-looking photos and tales of financial success.
Here’s how a ring of romance scammers tricked victims into falling in love
If you see something you think is a scam, you should avoid responding and report the scam to Instagram. Scams on Instagram happen when people create fake accounts or hack into existing Instagram accounts you’ve followed. The scammers use these fake or compromised accounts to trick you into giving them money or personal information. People asking you to send them money or gift cards to receive a loan, prize or other winnings. Anyone asking you to pay a fee in order to apply for a job.
In the event you do lose money, be warned that your chances of getting it back are almost nil. These scammers work from internet cafés and are entirely portable.
Scarlet Widow created profiles on mainstream dating sites and apps, allegedly beginning in It also trawled specialized networks whose users might be particularly lonely or vulnerable, including sites for divorcees, people with disabilities, and farmers in rural areas. Its fake members stressed the importance of trusting and supporting a partner, discouraging their targets from asking questions.
How to spot and avoid romance scams
Online dating scams continue to rise, costing unsuspecting victims millions of dollars each year. Rather than simply sending phishing emails, cybercriminals are playing the long game to cheat people out of their money. If you are using an online dating platform, make sure to look out for these signs that the person you’re talking to is actually a scammerand how to avoid online dating scams in general. Scammers target people across different demographics on every dating platform possible.
This means that regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, or preferred platform; no one is off-bounds to a scammer. However, they tend to target older people more often.
As the number of people looking to meet new people online grows, so does the Romance scammers often claim to be a U.S. citizen working or serving abroad.
Dating and romance scams are very destructive — both financially and emotionally. These scams also cause significant emotional harm, with many victims reporting a break down in relationships with friends and family. With the proliferation of online dating websites, forums and social media channels, these scams are moving increasingly into the online space.
Online communication channels allow scammers to operate anonymously from anywhere in the world. They can be very elaborate hoaxes, sometimes taking years to develop and run by experienced criminal syndicates. The scammer develops a strong connection with the victim before asking for money to help cover costs associated with a supposed illness, injury, family crisis, travel costs or to pursue a business or investment opportunity.
There have been reports of scammers using this material to blackmail victims. Watch out: If an online admirer asks to communicate with you outside the dating website, such as through a private email address or over the phone, watch out — they could be trying to avoid detection. If you are considering meeting in person, choose a public place and let family or friends know where you are at all times. Search: Run a Google Image search to check the authenticity of any photos provided.
Report: If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. Scamwatch – www. NSW Fair Trading – www. Skip to content Skip to navigation.
Online Romance: How to Protect Yourself Against Online Dating Scams
Army Criminal Investigation Command CID receives hundreds of reports a month from individuals who have fallen victim to a scam perpetrated by a person impersonating a U. Soldier online. Soldier who then began asking for money for various false service-related needs.
How does the scam work? Typically the victim and criminal will meet through a social media or dating site. The criminal will then try to develop a relationship with.
Navigating the world of Internet dating can be an exciting and fun way to meet potential partners. However, you might quickly discover that some things are not what they seem on certain sites and profiles. Though it is one of the fastest-growing ways for singles to meet each other and form lasting relationships, there are definitely those who use the sites for dishonest purposes. These red flags may refer to clues that the person on the other end of a profile might be untrustworthy, or that the website itself might not be truthful about its intended purpose.
All dating websites will ask for a certain amount of information in order to match you successfully with people who will hold your interest. However, this information will generally be limited to personality details and interests rather than financial information or anything that might be useful to someone wishing to steal your identity. A popular scam involves sites that ask you to create a profile specifically to mine your information.