A Deeper Look Into Romance Scams And How To Protect Yourself
With the rise of technology, dating has now become easier than ever. Apps like Tinder and Bumble allow you to connect to people you may otherwise never be able to meet. At first glance, this seems like a convenient way to find romance, but it comes at a price, as you could easily fall victim to a scam. Unfortunately, this form of cybercrime, known as romance scams, is on the rise and can have a substantial psychological and financial impact on victims.
If you’ve been through a breakup before, you likely remember those awful sensations in your stomach and chest: the world is falling apart. When you go through such an experience, you think heartbreak is the worst thing in the world. But there’s something far worse than that: losing your hard-earned money to someone who acts as a potential romantic partner.
Unfortunately, romance scams are incredibly lucrative, leading to severe financial effects on victims. ExpressVPN highlights that in 2021 alone, $547 million USD was lost due to dating scammers. That’s a considerable amount, and statistics show that these scams are only getting costlier. As for the demographics, both men and women are susceptible to this type of cybercrime.
Bad actors often target older people and those who are emotionally vulnerable or face relationship issues. However, these scams can also affect well-educated individuals.
Romance Scams: What They Are And How To Spot The Signs
Romance scams occur when someone believes they’ve found a match on a dating app, but that person is a swindler. The criminals create fake profiles and try to build an emotional connection with the victim, and once trust is gained, they ask for money.
Criminals research potential victims in advance by looking through dating sites for information about their personalities and lives. They use this information against the victim by manipulating them and making them believe a genuine romantic interest exists. In fact, all these scammers want is for someone to take the bait.
Unfortunately, many people fall victim to these fraudsters mainly because they aren’t aware of the risks of online dating. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and educating yourself on the different types of online dating scams is key to staying safe. Here are some of the most common variations of romance fraud.
Military Romance Scams
The scammer pretends to be a soldier, and they use military jargon and titles in their messages to impress, making up the excuse of being deployed to avoid meeting in person with the victim. After building an emotional connection with the victim, they request money to pay for flights home, retirement planning, or military medical coverage.
Fake Dating Websites
Some fraudsters create fake dating apps or websites that seem legitimate to trick victims into divulging their personal or financial information.
Here, the scammer requires the victim’s contact details in exchange for their intimate photos. However, this is only a tactic, as the scammer is only fishing for personal information.
Malware is one of the most common cyber threats and is also prevalent on dating sites like Tinder. Fraudsters send a link to victims which contains malware that can lead to identity theft and financial fraud.
This list is not comprehensive – many other forms of romance scams exist, such as intimate activity scams, code verification scams, and inheritance scams.
Knowing there are so many online dating scams can be scary, and it may be challenging to determine if a scammer hides behind a fake profile. That said, there are some tell-tale signs to watch out for:
- The scammer falls in love way too soon and uses endearing terms, such as the ‘love of my life,’ attributing the romance to fate; they may even propose marriage too quickly;
- The scammer only has a few pictures on their profile and often shows only a part of their face;
- He also wants to move to a private communication platform too quickly;
- The scammer presents an inconsistent story;
- He makes promises to meet you, but when the meeting date is closer, they will typically say they have an emergency;
- The scammer asks you to send them money for travel expenses, medical bills, etc.
Stay Safe When Dating Online
As mentioned previously, anyone can fall victim to a romance scam. So, what can be done when online dating is associated with these significant threats? The good news is that you don’t have to stop using these apps if you’re into online dating. Instead, there are some practices you can implement to stay safe from romance fraud:
- Don’t ignore red flags. One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from a scammer is to pay attention to the red flags mentioned above. If something feels off when communicating with a person, you should trust your intuition.
- Research the person on social media. You can verify the identity of your match by researching them on apps like Instagram or
- Facebook. If the person is real, you’ll likely find it out easily; however, if something is suspicious, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
- Allow the relationship to develop gradually. It takes time for a relationship to grow, so it’s probably not real if you’re experiencing a storybook romance. If the person doesn’t let things happen naturally and wants to move too quickly, this may indicate an unsafe relationship, which you should avoid pursuing.
- Don’t disclose too much personal information. A scammer will try to exploit personal details about you, such as your place of work, to commit identity theft, so it’s best not to disclose too much information to someone you’ve only talked with online.
- Never send money to someone on a dating app. This may seem like a no-brainer, but money should never enter into the equation when you’ve never met someone on a dating app in person. You should immediately report them to the authorities if they ask you for money.
More often than not, victims are reluctant to report a romance scam due to feelings of embarrassment or humiliation. However, it’s important to remember that staying silent will only allow fraudsters to make even more victims. So, think of it this way: by taking action, you’ll do yourself justice and prevent others from going through a similar experience.
How To Report Dating Scams
Feel free to share this page if it was helpful. Meanwhile, you can officially report dating scams and any other suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using their portal below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be amongst the first to receive notifications about the most notorious scams every week, subscribe to our Scam Detector newsletter. You will receive periodic emails from us with insightful tips. That will include how to prevent fraud and information about the newest tools you can use to fight crime.
Meanwhile, feel free to educate yourself with some other Amazon fraud-related articles. They are listed under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Last but not least, if you have any bad experiences, make sure to use the comments section below to expose other scammers.
5 Online Dating Scams You Need To Know
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