What Are Romance Scams – How To Avoid Them

Millions of people now rely on the internet for many aspects of their lives, including professional, personal, and leisure. Online platforms have also become an effective and popular tool for finding love. Many people use the internet to connect with people they can date and develop long-term relationships with.

However, with cybercriminals being the master of disguise, it’s difficult to spot internet con artists catfishing innocent people trying their luck on online dating platforms. Understanding what catfishing and online scams are and how you can spot romance scammers can help you stay safe on your journey of finding true love online.

What are Catfishing Romance Scams?

Online dating scams, catfishing, and romance scams are all names of the same cybercrime that involve online scammers tricking people into thinking they are in a healthy romantic relationship. Malicious criminals gain the victim’s trust and then blackmail or emotionally manipulate them into sending personal information or money. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than $305 million was lost to romance scams in 2020.

The Difference: Romance scams generally target innocent people by using fake identities with another person’s photos, data, and other information to manipulate the targets or steal from them. However, when the motive is personal wish fulfillment, revenge, or entertainment, it’s usually considered catfishing. This means catfishers are cybercriminals who often don’t have a monetary motive like other romance scammers.

Common Online Romance Scam Tactics To Keep an Eye On

Man looking at his phone horrifically after being scammed

Long-Distance Relationships

Many romance scammers pretend they live in a different country as an excuse for not meeting in person. They could make you believe they’re working with an international organization as a healthcare practitioner, deployed overseas in the military, or working on a drill rig offshore.

Try looking out for inconsistencies in their stories, and don’t trust them with your personal information or hard-earned money until you meet them and are satisfied with their background.

Too Good to Be True

If you think the relationship has become serious too fast or your hobbies and interests are identical to yours, perhaps check out the information you’re sharing with others on your social media profile.

Cybercriminals often stalk individually targeted people to create special profiles tailored to the target’s interests to attract them. Be wary of online lovers who profess their feelings too quickly.

It’s always a good idea to reverse-search their social media profiles to check if the images are real because a quick Google search can sometimes give a clear impression of whether a person is real or another catfish.

Asking for Favors or Money

Strangers asking for favors or money is always a red flag. If you don’t know this person or haven’t met them yet and they ask you to send some money, be cautious.

Many romance scammers create elaborate stories about medical expenses, travel expenses, or family emergencies to persuade their targets. They ask them to send money quickly and anonymously through preloaded gift cards, wire transfers, or newly opened bank accounts.

You can also be asked to send funds to a scamming NGO they’re helping once they gain your trust. There have been reports of romance scammers using the tactic to use targets for money laundering as well.

Never send money to strangers, especially without consulting your trusted family members or friends. But if you’re a victim of a sweetheart scam or know someone who was catfished, play your part and file a scam report online through FraudTrac.

As a trusted online scam tracker website, we encourage people to report online fraud and file scam reports to help others be alert about cybercriminals or fraudulent businesses. You can report consumer fraud, pension scams, credit card fraud, malicious activities, and other types of fraud and cyber scams by connecting with us.

Learn more about our offerings here.

 

 

 

 

 

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