March 10, 2021 by Lisa Brammer
Last week I came across an interesting blog the Federal Trade Commission posted called “Caught in a bad romance.” It was about all the scams that take place online in the name of love. I was intrigued, so I did a little more research and found it is happening with so much frequency there is actually a website dedicated to the problem called, romancescams.org.
Between the FTC blog and the website, I found that cyber love scams are growing at an alarming rate: In 2015, only 8,500 cases were filed. The number of scams have more than doubled in the past 5 years. In 2019 alone, over $200 million dollars had been swindled from victims and that number soared to over $300 million in 2020. Because so many of the victims are too humiliated to report they’ve been duped or feel such a strong connection to their con-artist paramour, it’s easy to imagine that these numbers are grossly under reported.
Surely the pandemic played a big role in escalating the problem in 2020, but clearly these swindlers are out of control.
Sadly, very few of the people fooled by online romance scammers get their money back. But hopefully we can help other would-be victims by shining a light on several tactics fraudsters use, then maybe others can avoid this heart-ache in the future.
Here are some tactics listed on the romancescams.org site.
- Trusted profiles: They create fake profiles for themselves usually using trusted occupations like medical professionals, aid workers or military personnel
- Common Interests: After studying would-be victims’ profiles, they initiate conversations employing similar interests
- Escalate the relationship quickly: Since this is what they do for a living, they get down to business quickly. It’s very common for them to love bomb their victims by showering lots of affection on their victim.
- Suggest using other ‘more private’ online chat sites: When using dating websites fraudsters will typically suggest using other sites to further the relationship since legit dating sites scan their sites for suspicious behaviors.
- Ask for money: It will usually start off very innocently. They may even send small gifts to ‘get the ball rolling’.
This is only a partial list of the many strategies fraudsters use to scam people. But it is easy to see how people fall for these schemes and many lose their life savings.
I am not saying that love cannot be found on the internet. Many very successful relationships began online. I’m just saying it’s important to go forward with eyes wide open. Forewarned is forearmed.
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