Love is in the air, and scammers can smell it. Online dating is super prevalent and convenient in today’s social media landscape, but it gives criminals easy access to potential victims. More than 57 million people use dating apps in the United States.
Romance scammers lure their victims with fake profiles on dating websites and apps and strike up relationships with the people they meet. They spend time building up trust, before inevitably asking for money.
Scammers rely on lying and pressure to keep their true identities hidden from their victims. Some common mistruths they tell are:
- Their cameras don’t work.
- They can’t meet in person.
- They need money wired to them, rather than having things purchased for them (e.g. flights, medicine, gifts).
How do you know you’re involved in a romance scam? Watch for these behaviors:
- They have consistent tragic stories of why they need financial help.
- They pressure you to wire money to them as soon as possible.
- They say they live far away from you.
- Their profile seems too good to be true.
- The relationship is moving fast.
- They break promises to see you.
You can keep yourself safe by:
- Evaluating your online presence, limiting how much information can be found about you.
- Approaching online relationships with caution.
- Setting up a video chat early in the relationship.
- Doing reverse image searches and google searches of your potential partner.
- Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
If you have been scammed:
- Let us know. It may be nearly impossible to get your money back, but we can help you with the next steps and protect others from being scammed in the future.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re hardly the first person to be scammed and you certainly won’t be the last.
- Stop communicating with the scammer immediately and report the incident.
You can report to:
- The FTC.
- The FBI.
- The dating site if the scam started there.
The unfortunate truth is that too many people have been part of a love story that never ends happily ever after, but you can protect yourself from heartbreak.