It’s costing a fortune and scammers are laughing all the way to the bank
Dating online without meeting in person has become the new normal throughout the coronavirus pandemic. But losses to romance fraud reached £73.9m during this period, with Action Fraud receiving 7,754 reports. The true figure is likely to be much higher, as many victims of romance fraud are too embarrassed or upset to tell the authorities.
Why is it happening
It is humans capitalising on other humans’ weaknesses. For what ever reasons most victims let their heart rule their heads and parted with their hard-earned savings. It's not always cash. It can be precious metals or commitments to guarantors.
We all want attention, loving and care. Many people are lonely and need friendship. Many people are not strong and are absolutely trusting at face value everyone they meet. How many times do we hear people say; I see the good in everyone. Well, those are the ones who are likely to fall victims.
A simple fact is most humans are not trustworthy and, in this instance, it is better to be negative than positive until it proved otherwise.
Online dating fraud has a sliding scale
Scammers fit on a scale and everyone needs to always have this scale in the back of their mind. The extreme scammers are those organised crime groups who are out to get your money. You are targeted and worked. The criminals are often overseas and are very good at creating the deception.
Overseas scammers are easier to spot and there are tell tale signs how they do it. The scammers are interested in quick work typically over a month period and are targeted on results. They will ask for money for tickets very quickly or that they are in trouble and need cash. They will often come up with plausible stories on why they need to be trusted and to give them cash.
These are some of the tactics they use;
- Scammers may take several months to build what may feel like the romance of a lifetime and can even pretend to book travel to visit you
- Once they have gained your trust and your defences are down, they will ask you, either subtly or directly, for money, gifts, or your banking or credit card details.
- Often, scammers will pretend that they need the money for some sort of personal emergency or insist they need the money to travel to visit you.
- They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and texts rather than through the dating website where you met.
- The new love of your life has supermodel good looks in the pictures they send you.
- They express strong emotions for you in a very short space of time.
- They ask you lots of questions about yourself but don’t tell you much about themselves.
- They start asking you to send them money. They’ll pretend they need money from you for some sort of personal emergency or insist they need the money so they can travel to visit you.
- It’s common for romance scammers to pose as a soldier serving in the military as this gives them a good excuse as to why they can’t meet you in person. It’s also a good way to try and win your sympathy.
How to avoid getting scammed
Firstly, your money is your money - never give it up to someone you don’t know no matter how sorry you feel for them.
Never give money impulsively; Make sure your head rules your heart.
If you are thinking of giving someone money be it someone you have met on the internet or even face to face after a year or two. Always consult others. A fraudster will want to keep it between you both and not discuss with others. On the contrary its in your best interest to not only consult family and friends but professionals who are experts in money lending.
If someone asks you to do something that involves a large sum of money or ask them to guarantor or take out finance, always seek professional advice first.
Tricksters and romance fraudsters
The opposite end of the scale is the lone individual who is looking for romance and at the same time capitalising on emptying the victims bank account. These scammers are much harder to identify because they think in their own mind, they are just borrowing money from you and will pay it back. Tricksters and romance fraudsters have been around for generations and are nothing new.
These tricksters often meet face to face and may groom you over many months if not years. They are patient and wait for their opportunity.
Smart tricksters are often chancers, gamblers, risk takers. Watch out for this in their behaviour. It might be buying a new car or house together then re-mortgaging to draw cash out. Perhaps investing and buying property abroad or tax advantageous schemes.
How to avoid Romance Fraudsters
- Firstly, same as extreme scammers. It is your money, you earned it, worked for it and only a fool is parted from their money easily.
- Parting with money of any size or description needs to be a HEAD thing not a heart thing.
- Signing or committing to credit, loans, guarantor is a HEAD thing and nothing to do with he heart.
- Don’t rely on gut feel, just have it as a principle, say no.
- Consult with your friends and family. Consult with professionals especially if it’s a large sum of money. Never make the decision quickly and without consultation.
- Let your head do the thinking not your heart.
Let’s look at the profile of who is typical victim according to research;
70% are women
Most scammed are middle aged = over 40
They are likely to be cooperative, gullible/uncritical, careless, susceptible to flattery, easily intimidated, generous and are good citizens.
They are likely to be individuals with a higher tendency toward idealization of romantic partners.
They are likely to be less worldly and lower educated people
They know little about cybersecurity
They are likely to have standard or uninteresting lives. victims are often asked to urgently send money in an unexpected crisis this is likely to be sensation seeking, a form of impulsivity, excitement in their lives.
It is hypothesized that individuals who score high on external locus of control are more likely to be victims of romance scams compared with those who have not become victims of romance scams.
research on romance scam, victims described themselves as naïve and trusting.
survey measuring kindness are more likely to be victims.
IT’S A SIMPLE FACT; Romance scamming or any form of money scamming involves someone convincing you to part with your money. Some of the reason sound amazing and real. BUT they scammers want you to act quickly and impulsively and alone.
TO stop any money scamming; TAKE YOUR TIME, DON’T RUSH, CONSULT OTHER PEOPLE AND FAMILY. TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL