Dealing With The Dangers of Romance Scams in 2020

There are plenty of fish in the sea. Unfortunately, some of them have bad intentions. The reality is most people are using dating apps to find their partner in life.

In 2018 alone, over 236 million dollars was collected by sketchy individuals known as “cat-fishers.”

Romance scammers work by creating fake profiles on dating sites or apps. Many will also contact their target victims through popular social media platforms, and they’ll be charming and quick to profess their love.

Scammers build up a relationship with their targets. They establish trust and use feelings and emotions as tools of manipulation.

These individuals aren’t so easy to catch. They go through such lengths in making the other person fall in love that they will spend all day having a conversation on the phone or sending messages.

Luckily, there are some simple warning signs and steps that you can take if you think you or a loved one may be falling victim. It is important to understand what your risks are and how to manage your safety.

What Are the Dangers of Romance Scams?

It’s no small matter to be a victim of a romance scam. Many people have experienced the horrible consequences of being on the receiving end of this criminal activity.

Emotional Damages

Getting scammed can be devastating to mental health and well being. These events can result in a long-lasting feeling of betrayal. Often victims will take years to be able to trust a romantic partner in the future.

Many victims have reported feelings of depression, anxiety, and vulnerability.

Blackmail

If you are looking for love online, you must take certain safety precautions. You’ll thank yourself in the future.

Though it may be tempting after a few weeks of chatting to send compromising pictures to the person you’re seeing online, don’t do it.

Dating scammers will often use these naughty photos to blackmail you in the future. They’ll ask you to do something like send money or participate in criminal activities.

You’ll be forced to do it unless they’ll post these images all over the internet or send them around. If you don’t send them a check, that bathroom selfie might just end up in your boss’s email.

This brings us to the most likely consequence of a dating scam – losing money.

It’s All About the Money

As we mentioned, dating scamming is a whole industry that makes millions of dollars every year. The biggest threat here is directed straight at your wallet.

Often, these relationships will go on for months before you’re ever asked to provide any form of financial assistance. Once the catfisher has gained your trust, they’ll start asking questions.

They’ll strike while your defenses are down. They may not ask you directly for money. Most likely, they will come up with a sob story that will target your emotions. Sometimes they’re very subtle in their requests.

A common story is one of a severely ill family member. They’ll bring up how expensive their medical payments are. The hardest part is that you’ll feel terrible refusing them. This is part of their trick, and the scam is relying on the fact that you trust them.

Scammers may also claim that they need money for something more romantic, like a trip to come to visit you. It will be tempting, but don’t give them any money.

The scammer will often send you items like special packages and ask that you resend them somewhere. This is a warning sign that something is going on.

Laundering and Sketchy Transactions

This can cause a lot of harm, and you want to be careful. There are chances that you may be participating in criminal activity without knowing it.

In other cases, the scammer may be pretending to be a wealthy informed expat with an entrepreneurial spirit. They’ll tell you about a substantial amount some money or maybe gold that just fell in their lap! You’ll be excited; this is a chance for a new life!

Unfortunately, it’s most likely not the case. They’ll ask you to transfer it out of the country and, in turn, you’ll get a share of it. To start the transaction, they’ll tell you that they need some money from you to cover exchange fees or taxes.

Serious Risks

Incidences like these pose a serious risk to your personal safety. These individuals are typically part of international criminal organizations.

They may even lure you overseas. This may go without saying but, don’t go! If you don’t know them well, in person, it can have serious and tragic consequences.

Regardless of how you are scammed, you could end up losing a lot of money and enduring a painful heartbreak.

How to Deal With Being a Romance Scam Victim?

If you think you’re falling victim to a romance scam, it can be scary and confusing. It’s helpful to know that you have a network of support available to you. We’ve gathered some tips for how you should proceed and what you should do now that you’ve discovered the scam.

No matter what, always keep in mind that you should never, we mean, never ever send money or gifts to an online lover that you haven’t met yet in person.

If you suspect that the person your falling for may be scamming, you stop communicating with them immediately. Quit them cold turkey.

Signs You’re Being Scammed

Not sure if you’re a victim? Here are a few tell-tale signs that you are being tricked by an online lover.

1.    They Have Zero Online Presence.

In this day in age, almost everyone has a social media profile of some sort. We realize that there are some people who don’t like oversharing, but you should be able to find at least some online trail of their existence. If there are little details and the profiles are recently created, they’re probably entering the game to find vulnerable people to prey on.

2.    Their Story Doesn’t Match Up.

Keep an eye on the details. So, your love-interest claims to live in Paris and work for a tech start-up. Ask them what it’s like, to send pictures of themselves by the Eiffel Tower or Sacred Heart. Look for inconsistencies in their stories.

3.    They Seem Isolated.

Do they have pictures with friends? Just because a person doesn’t have pictures or any shared social media content with friends, they aren’t necessarily a fraud. If they don’t, though, it’s just another hint that you may be getting involved with the wrong type of person.

Like we said, just because someone has an extensively curated social media presence doesn’t clearly define them as safe, and the same goes for the other way around.

Reach Out

It’s hard enough trying to navigate the online dating scene without having to deal with the fear of being financially and emotionally taken advantage of. Finding out that you are can be overwhelming.

The good thing is, you’re not alone. Speak to someone you trust like a close friend or a member of your family. See if they can help you.

You’ll be happy to know how much people care about your well being. Ask their opinion on the person. It’s always good to have a second perspective.

Dig Deep

Hopefully, you’ll have the investigative part of your spirit ignited. Do a search. Research the career that they say that they have, read stories from previous victims of romance scams.

Romance Scammers typically say that they have a job that makes them unavailable to meet you. They’ll work on an oil rig, in the military, or as a doctor abroad, for example.

Conduct a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. If they created a fake profile, chances are you’ll find the photo associated with another social media profile.

If you’ve already paid a scammer, you may be able to save your money. If you offered them a gift card, you can contact the issuing company and ask for a full refund.

If you gave the person any money or financial information, make sure that you also contact your bank immediately.

In the case that you’re very afraid or feel threatened, it’s crucial that you call the police. You never know what people are capable of, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed. Reporting what is going on is a vital step, and it can protect you in the long-run.


The Verdict

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2018, confidence/romance scams are the seventh-most reported acts of fraud. The aggregate losses reached US$362 million and an increase of more than 70 percent from the previous year.

Dating sites and apps are the most fertile hunting grounds for people who are looking to scam people over. These false admirers are charming and friendly at first and may seem like a dream.

There are a few obvious signs of a scam that are important to keep in mind when you are looking for love. Even if you are 99 percent sure that your object of admiration is real, never give money or send pictures that you wouldn’t want your father to see.

Falling victim to a scam can be embarrassing, and many people never report it. If you think you’re being scammed, it’s essential that you come forward and report it to the site so they can take measures to prevent this sort of occurrence in the future.



Chelsea King
Written by Chelsea King

Chelsea has been a direct victim of romance scams herself losing over $35,000 in a span of a year in 2015. She joined and took over operations of RomanceScams.org in 2015. She brings first-hand experience in studying romance scams, and also experience in vetting dating sites for legitimacy. Read more of Chelsea's articles.

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