It’s Valentine’s Day and Love is in the Air! So too are romance scammers looking to take advantage of people feeling lonely or longing for affection. Read on to learn some tips on how to prevent becoming a victim of these online scams.
Romance scammers often target victims through social media and dating websites. Scammers will create a fake profile using stolen photos and information and use that to lure their victims into a relationship. Once they have an emotional connection with their victim, they will often request money. The ask may come with a sob story, promises of a benefit, or claims of an emergency situation.
In 2020, the FBI reported that victims of romance scams in the United States lost more than $600 million, with an average loss of $15,000 per victim. But the financial loss is just the beginning. Victims may also experience feelings of betrayal, shame, and embarrassment, as well as damage to their self-esteem and trust in others.
How to prevent becoming a victim of Romance Scams:
Here are a few tips to challenge a romance scammer:
- Schedule an online video-conference meeting. Scammers using stolen photos in their profile cannot look the same on camera. If they make excuses about why they cannot appear, they are likely not who they claim to be.
- Never share private information or money to someone you haven’t met in person.
- Requests for nudity can result in extortion as scammers will threaten to post or share those photos with the victim’s friends or family if they don’t pay. Be wary of sharing photos that may embarass you later.
- Take a breath. Get to know the person and verify their identity before you get too involved.
- Consider a background check on anyone you date online.
- Ask a relative or trusted friend to meet your new online companion.
- If you have been scammed, report it to law enforcement and the dating site or social media platform.
Common Lies Told By Romance Scammers:
The FTC has compiled a list of the most commonly used lies told to victims during a romance scam. To learn more, visit the FTC article.
In conclusion, stay vigilant and know that romance scams are a serious threat to online users looking for love and companionship. By following these simple tips, you can protect yourself from loss of money and feelings of victimization.