There are a number of steps you can take to avoid falling into the trap of romance scams; be cautious about what you post and make public on the internet. Social media and dating sites can be used by scammers to better understand and target you because of the information you share on these platforms. Find out if the person’s photo and profile have been used elsewhere by conducting online searches for the image, name, and other details of the person in question.
Romance scams occur when a criminal creates a fictitious online identity in order to gain the affection and trust of a victim. The scammer then creates the appearance of a romantic or close relationship with the victim in order to manipulate and/or steal from them. The criminals who operate romance scams are highly skilled at what they do, and they will appear genuine, caring, and believable to the victim. Con artists can be found on nearly every dating and social media website. The scammer’s goal is to establish a relationship with the victim as quickly as possible, endear themselves to the victim, and gain their trust in the process.
Marriage proposals and plans to meet in person may be made by swindlers, but they are never followed through on. They will eventually approach you for money. Scam artists frequently claim to be from the building and construction industry and to be involved in projects outside of the United States. That makes it easier to avoid meeting in person—and makes it more plausible when they ask for money for a medical emergency or an unexpected legal fee, among other things. If someone you meet on the internet asks for your bank account information in order to deposit money, it is highly likely that they are using your account to carry out other theft and fraud schemes on your behalf.
Scammers frequently use dating websites to deceive unsuspecting victims into believing that they are in a genuine long-term relationship when they are not. The conversation frequently turns to lucrative cryptocurrency opportunities and the eventual transfer of coins or account authentication credentials once trust has been established. Approximately 20% of the money reported as lost in romance scams was in cryptocurrency, according to the FBI.
The Ins & Outs of Romance Scams
When it comes to meeting someone, millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites. Many people, however, instead of finding love, come across a scammer who is attempting to trick them into sending money. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission reported a record $304 million in losses from romance scams. This represents an increase of approximately 50% over the previous year. When it comes to romance scams, con artists create fictitious profiles on dating websites and apps or contact their victims through popular social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Google Hangouts.
The scammers establish a relationship with their victims in order to gain their trust, sometimes communicating or chatting with them several times a day. Then they concoct a story and approach you for money. They’ll frequently claim that they’re residing or travelling outside of the United States of America. We’ve heard stories about scammers claiming to be working on an oil rig, in the military, or a doctor with an international organization, among other things. We’ve heard reports of romance scammers asking their victims for money to pay for things like a plane ticket or other travel expenses, surgery or other medical expenses, customs fees to retrieve something, gambling debts to be paid off, or a visa or other official travel documents.
In order to pay, scammers ask people to wire money, use reload cards such as MoneyPak, or purchase gift cards from vendors such as Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam. Payment by wire transfer, reload card, or gift card is requested by scammers so that they can obtain cash quickly and remain anonymous. They also understand that it is nearly impossible to undo the transactions.
Massachusetts online romance scam case
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, 553 people in Massachusetts reported being victims of a compromised email scam in the previous year, with the victims collectively losing more than $61.7 million. However, while that is the most common internet scam, romance and confidence scams are one of the fastest-growing fraud categories on the internet. According to IC3 data, there were 415 reported victims of online romance or confidence scams in Massachusetts, who collectively lost nearly $21.8 million — an average loss of slightly more than $52,500 — as a result of the schemes. The number of people who fell victim to romance scams increased by 15% year on year in 2020, to 361, but their losses increased by a whopping 63 percent, to more than $8 million.
Other examples of romance scams
“The Tinder Swindler,” a Netflix documentary that premiered in February, told the story of Israeli conman Simon Leviev, who is accused of using the dating app Tinder to hook up with women looking for love only to emotionally manipulate them into taking out massive loans to support him. Leviev is currently on the run from authorities. They believed he was in danger and needed the money, but their debt only served to fund his elite lifestyle, which he used to court his next victim. Because of its widespread use, the sophistication of the modern con has been brought to light. In order to stay one step ahead of their potential victims, scammers have always had to be one step ahead of the game. In the modern era, this means taking the personal touch of the old-fashioned street con and translating it into the modern world of global social media.
If You Are Careful - You Can Protect Yourself From Such Scams
There are a number of steps you can take to avoid falling into the trap of romance scams; be cautious about what you post and make public on the internet. Social media and dating sites can be used by scammers to better understand and target you because of the information you share on these platforms. Find out if the person’s photo and profile have been used elsewhere by conducting online searches for the image, name, and other details of the person in question. Slow down and ask as many questions as you can, and be cautious if the individual appears to be too perfect or if they ask you to leave a dating service or social media site immediately in order to communicate directly.
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