Romance scammers are a growing problem in the online dating community and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received nearly 70,000 reports in 2022. The reported losses hit $1.3 billion, with a median loss of $4,400. If you aren’t completely aware of romance scammers and what they do, this article is the perfect opportunity to learn.
What is a romance scammer?
Romance scammers are individuals who use online dating platforms to target unsuspecting people with the aim of stealing their money. These scammers typically create phony profiles on dating sites, often claiming to be from a different country or culture than they really are. Romance scammers also tend to have multiple accounts or identities, making it difficult to identify them. They use high-pressure tactics to get victims to send them money, such as claiming they need it for medical expenses or other urgent needs. It is important to be aware of the warning signs of romance scammers, such as requests for money early in the relationship and promises of a future together that don’t seem realistic.
What are the romance scammers’ favorite lies?
In order to successfully scam someone as a romance scammer, they have to create an imaginary story that’s believable. Based on 8,070 romance scams reported in 2022, some of their favorite lies include:
- “I, or someone close to me is sick, hurt, or in jail”
- “I can teach you how to invest”
- “I’m in the military far away”
- “I need help with an important delivery”
- “We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage”
- “I’ve come into some money or gold”
- “I’m on an oil rig or ship”
- “You can trust me with your private pictures”
Which platforms do romance scammers use to find victims?
Romance scams can be a devastating experience for victims and it is important to be aware of the platforms that scammers use to find victims. According to recent studies, a startling 40% of people who have been scammed out of money in a romance scam reported that it happened through social media. This can include direct messages or posts on public pages, as well as private conversations. 19% of those who lost money to a romance scammer said it was through a website or app. It’s important for online daters to be aware of the risks associated with these platforms, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves. Many people also reported that the scammer moved the conversation to Whatsapp, Telegram, or Google Chat.
What are the top payment methods on romance scams?
Being that a romance scammer’s end goal is to receive money, you may be wondering which payment methods they use. The reports have shown that the top payment methods in 2022 were:
- Gift card
- Payment App or Service
- Bank Wire Transfer or Payment
How do I avoid being victimized by a romance scammer?
To protect yourself from falling prey to a romance scammer, it is essential to be aware of the signs and take the necessary precautions to stay safe. If you’re considering online dating, research the person’s profile before getting involved. Avoid revealing too much personal information, such as your full name or financial details. If something doesn’t seem right, trust your gut and end the conversation. Additionally, search their profile photos on Google to see if they’ve been used by another person. If you find the same photo on multiple sites, there’s a good chance the person you’re talking to isn’t real. Finally, don’t wire money or send gift cards to someone you haven’t met in person. If they are asking for money, it’s a huge red flag that it’s a scam.
What should I do if I fall victim to a romance scam?
If you believe that you have become a victim of a romance scam, know that you are not alone and there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The first thing you should do is report them to the platform and then, the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed about being scammed, but it’s important to remember that scammers are often very convincing and manipulative. If you have already sent money or gift cards, contact the financial institution to try and cancel the transaction. If possible, try and reach out for support from friends and family who may be able to provide guidance and offer emotional support during this difficult time.
Romance scammers continue to outsmart people and take their money with ease, but that doesn’t have to be your story. If it was, don’t beat yourself up about it and take it as an opportunity to be more prepared if you’re approached again. Also, feel free to check out our article about other scams you should avoid — types of tax scams.