Have you heard of a “romance scam?” If you’ve ever thought about using online dating, or know someone who has, you should beware of one of the biggest scams in the world that ensnares thousands of victims from all over the world.
We all want to think the best of someone, especially friends or romantic interests, but it’s not always a wise decision to blindly trust someone that we don’t know.
If you’ve met someone online, there’s a possibility that they might be a catfish or a scammer. According to the FTC, “romance scams” are responsible for the biggest losses in money. In 2018, a reported $143 million was stolen in romance scams — more than any other consumer fraud type.
So what is a romance scam?
A romance scam is a form of a confidence trick. A confidence trick is when a con artist persuades their victim that they can be trusted, just like you might find in a Ponzi scheme or another type of traditional con. But instead of getting someone to trust them outright with their money, they work on getting their victim to fall in love with them. Once the victim is hooked, they manipulate their goodwill to defraud them. Often this is in the form of telling a lie (like they’re in trouble or have had an accident) and convincing their victim to send them money. Once the scammer has drained as much money as they can from their victim, they disappear without a trace.
There are several stages in a romance scam. Do any of these sound familiar?
This isn’t a step the victim will see. It’s when the con artist begins to assume their new identity, by creating a dating profile and potentially stealing someone else’s photographs to appear as an ideal romantic interest.
The victim is approached or contacted. The con artist might research their victim first, so he or she can build a quick rapport and appear to be a perfect match.
This is when the con artist will start to lay the charm on thick. They might tell the victim that they love them, or shower them with compliments. They might even send them gifts. If the scam is working, the victim will begin to develop feelings for the con artist at this point.
Pay-off or convincer
The victim wants to meet their love interest. The scammer puts it off or makes excuses. Perhaps they arrange to video chat, but the scammer never shows up. After the build-up has finished, the scammer will tell their victim that they are planning on traveling to meet them, or another incentive similar to this.
The scammer springs a sudden manufactured crisis onto their victim. They claim that they’ve been in an accident, jailed, or need money to buy plane tickets to come and visit them. This is where the romance scam succeeds or fails. The victim often panics, as the story seems genuine, and hands over their cash to the con artists. At this point, the scammer may disappear suddenly, or continue the scam in order to squeeze more money from their victim.
How To Protect Yourself
Scammers are clever, and masterminds of faking emotion. You might honestly think that you’ve found the most trustworthy partner on the planet, and your connection is completely genuine. But if you haven’t met face-to-face, there’s a good chance that they might not be who they say they are. Did you know that there’s an easy way to verify someone’s identity?
A simple background check from Instant Checkmate can help you discover the truth about someone. Just enter a full name or phone number, and in minutes Instant Checkmate can provide you with a complete dossier on almost anybody. This report may include location and contact information, photographs, social media profiles, criminal records, business affiliations, and much more.
If you’re speaking to a scammer, they’ve likely created a completely fake identity in order to bamboozle you.
Even if your online date is genuine, it’s still a smart idea to run a quick background check on them to ensure that they are a safe and compatible person. Do they have any worrying criminal records you should know about? Do their opinions on social media not reflect the person you think you know? Save your time and mental energy by running a background check before you get too invested!