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These days, millions of people are using online dating sites and apps all over the world.
Are these websites and applications uniting users to find true love?
Of course, the chance of finding true love and companionship is higher in modern times since more than 1,500 dating websites and applications are battling for a lover’s attention worldwide.
Although there are many success stories of individuals using these websites and applications to find true love and companionship, there are also incidents of people falling prey to romance scammers rather than looking for their true love.
The individuals who set up fake profiles on dating websites and apps or approach you through well-known social media platforms are known as romance scammers.
In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in romance scam cases. Ignorant people are the ideal victims of a romantic scam because of their isolation, loneliness, and despair.
You may have several questions, like what is romance scamming? What can these scammers do? How can we protect ourselves against romance scammers? Where can I report romance scam cases? and so forth.
This blog answers all of your queries regarding romance scam cases and offers you the additional information that may be required if romance scammers try to defraud you.
Romance scam- what is it?
The term “romance scam” refers to the technique utilized by spammers to defraud their targets. It is often referred to as “romance fraud or an online dating scam.”
The final goal of the scammer is to grab money from the victim; therefore, they use the anonymity provided by social media platforms to deceive individuals looking for love or companionship into giving them money or gifts.
Using an online dating site or app, the victims feel connected; however, the person they are chatting to is a scammer using a phony profile.
To eventually request money from the victim, the scammer tries to manipulate or nurture them to gain their trust over time.
Dating scam statistics
Online romance scams have become more prevalent in recent years because of technological breakthroughs and increased human loneliness.
Romance scam cases victims have reported losing significant amounts more frequently than any other FTC scam category in the past five years.
Romance scammers spout all kinds of lies in an attempt to steal your heart and money, and complaints to the FTC indicate that these lies are succeeding.
Compared to 2017, there were more than three times as many reports of romance scam cases to the FTC in 2021. More than 55,000 people reported romance scams to the FTC in 2021.
Victims reported losing $547 million as a result of romance scams. That’s more than six times what it was four years ago when it was $87 million.
Romance scam 2022 numbers resembled 2021 numbers yet again, and it’s not a pretty thing. In 2022, approximately 70,000 people reported a romance scam, with claimed losses totaling $1.3 billion.
According to reports, the average individual amount lost to a romance scam case in 2021 was $2,400, rising to $4,400 in 2022.
How does romance scammer work?
Scammers generally build fake internet profiles to entice you. They may use a fictitious identity or mimic real, trustworthy individuals such as military officers, relief workers, or professionals living abroad.
Online romance scammers sometimes rely on widowed, divorced, elderly, or unemployed people with money resources such as pension funds, inheritance, or savings. They exploit these people’s vulnerabilities to create a solid but phony emotional relationship.
After establishing confidence through repeated phone calls and other communication platforms, scammers frequently demand a large sum of money to rectify a purportedly immediate issue.
Dating and romance scams are common on online dating platforms, but fraudsters may also approach victims via social media or email. Catfishing is another term for romance scam cases.
A romance scam targeting an 87 year-old Holocaust survivor lands a Florida woman in the slammer. Former FBI Agent Tom Simon, currently of Simon Worldwide Investigations, has the story. #truecrime pic.twitter.com/KMNNSWLu7b
— Tom Simon (@SimonPrivateEye) February 6, 2023
How to spot this scam?
Harrowing luck stories: Before requesting money, the scammer can allude to financial difficulties, such as cut-off electricity, a stolen automobile, a sick relative, or a tragic story about the passing of a loved one.
Talk about trust: Scammers who target individuals often use the value of trust as a buzzword. As a simulation, they could even send flowers or little presents. This is frequently done before requesting money.
Moving fast: By getting to know the victim’s life and earning their confidence, a romance scammer makes plans for the future and declares their love for them rapidly. People frequently claim they’ve never experienced this before.
Rush to get off the site: Romance scammers prefer offline communication, usually via messages. If their friends condemn the con artist, they persuade the victim that they are acting disingenuously.
Won’t meet: Be cautious of someone who consistently has an explanation for canceling a meeting, such as that they are traveling, working long hours, living abroad, or are in the military.
Too good to be true: Scammers exploit alluring images and claims of financial and intellectual success. If anything seems “too good to be true,” be cautious.
Suspect language: If the message is purportedly coming from someone in the US but has lousy spelling and grammar or uses unnecessarily flowery or descriptive language or words that don’t make sense, it’s a wake-up call.
How do you stop a romance scammer?
- Think twice before posting something online or making it public. Scammers might utilize information published on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Do online searches to look for the person’s picture and profile to determine whether the image, name or other information has already been used elsewhere.
- Ask several inquiries and move slowly.
- Be cautious if the person looks too perfect or politely requests you to quit a dating site or social media site so that you may chat with them privately.
- Be wary if the person tries to isolate you from friends and family or asks for indecent images or financial information that could be utilized to blackmail you later.
- Be wary if someone agrees to meet in person but continually finds a reason to say they can’t. You should be cautious if you haven’t met the individual after a few months.
- Never send money to somebody you have only spoken to over the phone or online.
Online romance scams and victimhood
In February 2019, Anna, a finance professional in her 50s, joined the dating website Zoosk. She had been single for four years, recovering from a complicated, abusive marriage. “I was finally ready to meet someone,” she says.
So, when she met Andrew, a handsome Bulgarian food importer living in London, she was thrilled. The pair were soon spending hours talking on the phone each day.
Anna thought Andrew was her perfect man. Now, she believes he was a character invented by a criminal gang to extort her. She had lost £350,000.
After ending the relationship, she cried for weeks. “It felt like losing a husband I loved with every inch of my heart and soul. I was never going to get any closure or say goodbye.” Anna has now reported Andrew to Action Fraud; the situation is under investigation.
Keith Grinsted, 69, says loneliness is the root cause of this growing problem. Last year, he began speaking to Tina, whom he hoped to meet when restrictions were lifted for corona.
After many weeks of chatting with Grinsted, she told him she was living in poverty. “She started sending pictures of empty food bowls, so I sent over some money for food,” he says. But when she asked for more money to pay for flights back from the US to meet him, alarm bells began to ring.
“She claimed to be visiting sick relatives, but I couldn’t understand how she’d flown there in lockdown,” he says. Instead of giving her money, he offered to book her flight home. She disappeared without a trace.
The emotional distress was immense. “I thought I’d found someone wonderful, and we’d spoken about potentially living together,” he says.
“When it all fell apart, I deliberately kept myself awake – I didn’t want the next day to arrive and to feel even worse. It took a long time to recover.” He has been targeted since then but has become more attuned to the warning signs.
One day, a soldier serving in Afghanistan as part of the peacekeeping mission sent Georgina a friend request on Facebook. She accepted the friend request and made “Jim” one of her Facebook friends.
She said it didn’t begin as a romance, but he claimed he was lonely and seeking friends to offer him company while he was on duty in a remote location.
Soon after they became friends, Jim revealed to Georgina that his wife had died of cancer and that his experience caring for her was identical to her own when her spouse, too, succumbed to cancer.
Then, he claimed that his time in the US military was almost up, and he’d been posted to Nigeria. She said he sent me photos that I now realize were taken by someone available on the internet.
Georgina said that she received a different request for money almost daily, even after running out of money.
She finally approached the police as she was confused about what to do.
They clarified that her encounter had many similarities with a dating and romance scam, so it was pretty doubtful she would receive her money back.
She is compelled to feel guilty about disappointing Jim, even though she knows in her brain that it was all a scam.
What should you do if you’re a victim of a romance scam?
In many romance scam cases, victims feel embarrassed and ashamed upon realizing they fell for a scam. You should not feel shameful or embarrassed about being a victim of this, and it happens to a lot of people—you are the victim of a crime.
Avoid hanging your head too much and focus on recovering rather than feeling dumb. As soon as you realize your online romance is a scam, cut off all contact immediately and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at the FBI.
This will go a long way in ensuring you receive the help you deserve.
Story of the Victim:
Where to report romance scams?
After being defrauded, it may be challenging to get your money back. But, reporting these events helps federal officials in detective work and could help them find the culprits.
Thus, if you believe you’ve been scammed, follow these recommendations:
- If you sent money to a romance scammer, instantly contact your bank.
- Take note of all the details of your online interaction, such as exchanging messages and payment information.
- Report to the police.
- Report it to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov./#/
- Notify the social media site or app where you first met the scammer.
Let’s make sense together to reduce the maximum count of romance scams in 2023.
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