The Anatomy of a Romance Scam
It’s important to be wary of scammers looking to use emotion to get you out of your comfort zone and convince you to reveal personal information. Unlike other scams that happen solely online, romance scammers have also been known to call their victims. These types of scams are also known as catfishing.
Romance scammers will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, showering you with compliments, sharing what appears to be details about their life and emphasizing what you have in common. This process may take months, and can make it difficult to identify a romance scam when the scammer goes to great lengths to make the target fall in love. The following are some telltale signs that will help you identify a romance scam in the works.
* Their profile on the dating website or Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you. For example, the images they use don’t match how they describe themselves, or they say they are university educated but their English is poor.
* After gaining your trust, they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details.
* They don’t keep their promises and always have an excuse for why they can’t travel to meet you and why they always need more money.
* If you don’t send money straight away, their messages and calls become more desperate, persistent or direct. If you do send money, they continue to ask you to send more.
* When you meet someone online, always consider the possibility that s/he could be a scammer – particularly if any of the warning signs are present.
* Perform a Google image search‡ of the individual who contacted you to see if the images consistently match to the name and aren’t featured on unusual websites. This may help you identify a romance scam.
* If you agree to meet with an individual in person, always tell family and friends where you are going and how long you’re going to be away. Meeting in a public place is another way to protect yourself.
* Be wary of money requests. Never send personal information that could be used to open up credit cards or accounts in your name, and carefully consider the possibility of a scam before you agree to give anyone money.
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