Dating can be difficult and scary. But falling for the wrong love connection can be costly as well as heartbreaking. Theres no shortage of dating apps, websites, and social media circles set up love connections. Sadly, they are often filled with predators that don’t want to steal your heart, but instead your money. Here’s a few tips to keep min mind when venturing into the world of online dating.
Many start by creating attractive profiles. Oftentimes they steal someone else’s photos to create fake profiles. Some even take on the identity of other people, using their pictures, name, or profession to create accounts. More often than not they claim to be abroad, or out of the country for various reasons: in the military, working abroad, or providing aid in overseas.
After sparking up a conversation they begin to work their way in to the heart of their victim. Many use the farce that they are widowed and are now looking to find someone to settle down with. Once they have got the attention of their victim, they shower them with compliments and soon profess their affection has grown strongly in a very short period of time. They prey on the victim’s emotions to gain their trust, filling them with false hopes of meeting and growing a relationship.
Once they have gained their trust, they start asking for money gifts, or even financial information. Here are some common stories scammers use to trick their targets:
- They are living outside of the country, in the military, or working internationally and need money to visit, obtain a visa or other travel documents, or to cover travel expenses.
- Someone they love or care for is experiencing a medical emergency and they need money to help with their medical care expenses.
- They need money to help with an emergency, repairs, gambling debts, loan, or an investment opportunity.
They’ll ask for cash, to have the money wired or transferred to an account, maybe even put on prepaid cards, or sent in bitcoin or through methods such as CashApp, all so the transaction is untraceable. Once they have what they want, they disappear just as quickly as they arrived. Communication is cut off and the other person is left to pick up the pieces emotionally and financially. Many have lost a lot of money; some have given up all they have to take care of their own personal matters.
If you are involved in an online romance be cautious. If you haven’t met in person but they ask for money, it’s a scam. No matter how good the story sounds, don’t send any money or share your sensitive information with them. Even if they send you money or a gift first, it is not a good idea to send anything. Romance scammers usually invest very little to deceive their victims, oftentimes using the profits they’ve made off of scamming others to lure in the new victim.
Be wary of a love interest that says they can’t meet in person, communicate on the phone, or virtually chat. You should check out anyone you are becoming involved with. Use reverse image search to see if the person you’re talking to has other profiles or if the photo is stolen. Search their phone number, name, and email address to see what comes up. It may tip you off that the person is a scammer. You can also search for sentences from their initial message or profile description. Many times, they use the same language with slight variations in their scam.
Be cautious if your new love:
- tries to lure you from the dating site immediately and wants to communicate by personal email, text, instant message, or phone.
- professes love for you almost immediately
- claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
- says they are planning to visit, but then claims they are unable to due to a traumatic event or a business deal gone bad.
- asks you to wire them money, send gifts, provide your financial or identification information, send cash, or set up a bank account.
Never send or forward money to people you meet online. Avoid sharing personal information or photos you wouldn’t want to be shared with others. Your information could be used to blackmail you or to defraud someone else. Watch out for messages from online love interest that contain strange links or ask you to download files which
could expose your sensitive information.
If you plan to meet the individual you’ve met online, tell others you know and trust where you will meet. Preferably don’t meet them alone. Neve
r go abroad or overseas to meet someone you do not know.
If you think you have fallen for a romance scammer, STOP all communications with the person right away. While it may be embarrassing, confide in someone you trust to let them know what you’ve experienced. Letting others know what occurred can save someone else from falling victim to similar scams. It is not uncommon for the scammers to resurface months or years later, under another name and profile to try again.
If you have given them access to your personal information, check and monitor your accounts and credit reports. Immediately report any unfamiliar activity. If you paid a romance scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Explain to them that paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money. Contact the administrators of the app or website where you met the scammer to report them. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and the Federal Bureau of Investigation at ic3.gov.
Online dating scams continue to be on the rise. Due to the nature of the scam, victims often feel ashamed, embarrassed, and hurt so they remain silent. This is what crooks depend on and it is also how they continue to thrive. If you have been affected by a scam or know someone that has report it. Share these helpful tips with others and make sure to BCA on Facebook for scam alerts, consumer tips, and trending industry topics.