Romance scams have been around since the dawn of time. A woman meets a man and seduces him for his money. A man meets a woman and steals her retirement. Men and women use each other to get revenge on an ex-lover. People use romance scams today, but they tend to be online. Scammers choose a target and begin to weave a tale of woe or claim to believe in love at first sight. The targets give in and the scammer walks away with money in hand. The FTC reports that people lost $143 million last year due to scams. The median loss for romance scams last year was $2,600 per person.
What is a Romance Scam?
A romance scam involves meeting a person who will lavish you with gifts, compliments, and dreams of a life together…just before asking for money. Scammers tell the same stories over and over. He has a medical emergency. She is late paying her rent. He has lost his family and needs someone to help him heal. She is stranded in another country. She’ll come to you but needs money for travel. However, there is no medical emergency; no one is stranded; and the only place the scammer is going is to the bank.
Profiles include a middle-aged woman who is somewhat dowdy and lonely or an older man who is looking for a trophy wife. Scammers target people who are older and are more isolated than the younger population, but they are not the only ones. Targets include professionals who are too busy to date, people tired of the dating scene, those who are disabled or are unable to get out into public, shy people. Many of the people being scammed are intelligent and ones that would not be duped easily otherwise. The scammers are just that good.
Spotting the Scam
Online daters should be on the lookout for the following signs:
Shady Profile Signs
Scammers’ profiles may include:
Professional or glamor profile pictures. Some won’t post any picture.
Profiles provide little or no information.
They claim to be in the military and stationed overseas.
They are looking for dates in the area although they live in another country.
They Send You to Another Site
Recent scams include sending their targets to another site. Some contain malware or ask for personal information. Most will want to talk through an app or by text. Use a free reverse phone lookup app to ensure the number belongs to the user.
Something Always Comes Up
The scammer wants to meet you, but something always comes up. There is an emergency, he got called into work, she has to take care of her sick mother. The truth is that the scammers are lying and will never meet you. Yet, it’s a good opportunity for them to ask for money for rent, bills, or travel.
They Ask for Money
The scammer will always ask for financial support – money, a new phone, travel expenses, or untraceable gift cards. They will refuse physical gifts, claiming that they want the money. Once the target says no, the scammer will try harder, often becoming combative. Eventually, the scammer will disappear and move onto the next person.
Reporting a Scam
If you are a victim of a romance scam, delete the person from your phone/computer. This includes phone contact. Report to the scam to the FTC.