Watch out for Internet Love Scams
Online romance scams are on the rise since the era of online dating has boomed.
Action Fraud reported that in 2017, victims lost a total of £41 million to romance fraud.
It’s not only the vulnerable who can fall for a love scam, this can happen to anyone no matter their age or savviness so you must always be assertive.
What is a love scam and how do love scams work?
Love scammers are cunning professionals and know all of the tricks in the book to woo their victims, if there is any opportunity to get their foot in the door they will do it.
Online love scammers exploit people searching for romance on the internet. (That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen to people meeting in person as well, because it does!)
They have certain tactics and contact their victims in various ways, whether it be through an online dating website, a dating app, social media or even by sending an email.
A love scammer will use a fake online profile to entice you, usually with a false name and will sometimes take on the identity of a trusted professional working abroad to lure you in.
In the early stages they confess their love for you and if you’re communicating via a dating site they request to continue the conversation privately, away from the website.
Once they feel they have earnt your trust they begin confessing some difficulties they are having and start asking you for money.
The ideal scenario for the scammer is to have the money sent to them quickly, however when it doesn’t go their way they become more persistent. If you do send funds they will ask you for more. If you mention about meeting up they always have a reason why they can’t.
Warning signs to look out for
- Any requests for sums of money no matter how big or small
- They are troubled or distressed
- They’ll shower you with compliments and make you believe there is a connection and a friendship
- Poor grammar
- A photo pinched from somewhere on the internet or even somebody else’s profile picture!
- They’ll often have an attractive photo
- Claim to share the same interests as you
- Constant excuses why they can’t meet, talk on the phone or video call with you – if for instance you ask for a Skype call they might say their webcam is not working.
How to protect yourself
- Under no circumstances transfer money to somebody you have never met or do not know
- Do not give away too much information about yourself (e.g where you live and work)
- Do not share photos or videos of yourself as you may set yourself up to be blackmailed. (If you choose not to meet their requests they may threaten to share the material you have sent them with your family and friends).
- Do not let emotions get in the way. The scammer will want you to believe there is an attachment between the two of you.
- Notify the police and relevant authorities should you be contacted about sending funds overseas.
Here are some useful contact details if you have been affected:
Action Fraud Telephone: 0300 123 2040
It’s usually not until after the scammer disappears does realisation kick in. Once the damage has been done the victim may feel ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated.
Sadly, there are many victims out there who have transferred huge amounts of money, even their entire savings, to love scammers. There’s little hope in catching these internet crooks when they have a fake online identity, live overseas and have disappeared off the face of the earth.
You may find this website useful which provides advice to follow when online dating: www.getsafeonline.org