Looking for a partner or love on the Internet is increasingly risky. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it is better to investigate before chatting with a stranger, because the pink story can turn into a tall tale.
According to a report by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, this is the type of fraud that generates more costs, and especially in people over 60 years old, known as ‘online dating scams’ or ‘romance scams’. The economic loss figure, in 2019, was estimated to be $84 million, above other types of scams.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, online dating has gained popularity due to the confinement, and not only in elders, but in people of all ages.
Today we will tell you #sinrecato how to identify these romantic scammers:
1. The photo is the key in these profiles. Scammers often use images of models or steal photos from other people’s social media profiles. The good news is that on the Google Reverse Image site, you can verify if the photo is real or fake.
2. The criminal is always going to try to move the conversation away to a personal level, via WhatsApp, email or some personal social account. After a few messages it is not wise to share this personal information with a stranger.
3. The happy ending to an online encounter is to see each other in person. But in this case, where they usually impersonate other people, the meeting will not be happening, because they would lose the opportunity to gain something financially.
4. They will always present themselves with high profiles, professionals who inspire confidence and who have to travel frequently for work. Usually, they are military, diplomats, doctors, etc. and among the excuses for not seeing each other are: “I was sent to a new base”, “I have a conference at the UN”.
5. Canceling plans, from time to time, is normal, but if they always do it when it looks like the meeting is going to happen, you should be suspicious and question the reasons for the constant refusals.
6. Another strong indicator is when there are quick expressions of feelings and most likely they say loving words such as: “I keep thinking about you”, “I’m madly in love”. They move fast, and the reason why is to make the victim fall with sweet and affectionate words to “trap” them and then move on to their main target: their bank accounts and wallets.
7. Once the scammers think they have spent enough time talking to their victim and that they have a loving relationship, they will move on to asking for money or even favors.
8. The first requests will be for something small, like paying a bill or doing their groceries, and then they will increase the value under the pretext that they need to pay money urgently.
9. Some more astute ones will try to steal your savings and even trick you into joining money laundering networks indirectly.
The pandemic has changed the world and even the way we meet and relate to each other in a romantic manner, everything has gone from face-to-face to virtual, which is not a bad thing. Yet, it is advisable that if you meet someone through a social network or an online dating service, do not believe everything you see and read.
If you suspect a family member is being a victim of a romance scam, you should watch out for these signs:
– They don’t want to talk about their romance, have excuses to justify why they don’t know their partner personally and haven’t even had a video call with them.
– They show a strong attachment to someone they have met, recently, on their social media.
– They may become defensive, because you ask them questions about their virtual partner and they don’t know how to answer.
– They admit that they sent money to that person, without knowing them well enough.
If any of these situations describe a family member or friend, it is the best to discuss it. This type of romance scam is a crime that is rarely reported because most victims feel guilty or embarrassed about being duped.
If you feel something is wrong and decide to confront the issue, you would probably be saving a loved one from losing a large sum of money and having their heart broken.
Traducción del español: Catalina Oviedo Brugés