Dating Scams & Romance Frauds Are Playing with People's Feelings & Money
Excerpt: Online dating scams and romance frauds are not only manipulating the bank account of an innocent individual, but these scams are also playing with the heart and soul of people too! Romance scams occur when a criminal creates a fictitious online identity in order to gain the affection and trust of a victim. The scammer then creates the appearance of love or close relationship with the victim in order to deceive and/or steal from them. You may be surprised to learn that romance scams are one of the most common types of financial scams; in fact, research suggests that 1 in 7 dating profiles may be fake.
You may be surprised to learn that romance scams are one of the most common types of financial scams; in fact, research suggests that 1 in 7 dating profiles may be fake. When people are looking for a romantic partner, scammers take advantage of them by pretending to be prospective mates on dating websites, apps, and social media platforms, among other places. It is their goal to manipulate you into providing money, gifts, or personal information by exploiting emotional impulses. The criminals that operate romantic scams are quite skilled at what they do, and they will appear sincere, sympathetic, and believable to the victim. Con artists can be found on nearly every dating and social media website.
The scammer’s goal is to create a relationship with the victim as rapidly as possible, charm himself to him, and acquire their confidence in the process. Marriage proposals and plans to meet in person may be made by swindlers, but they are never followed through on. They will eventually approach you for money. Scam artists frequently claim to be from the building and construction sector and to be involved in projects outside of the United States. That makes it easier to avoid meeting in person—and makes it more credible when they ask for money for a medical emergency or an unforeseen legal bill, among other things. If someone you meet on the internet asks for your bank account details in order to deposit money, it is quite likely that they are using your account to carry out further theft and fraud operations on your behalf.
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: Romance Scams Have Cost a $201 Million Loss
A romance scam is a confidence trick in which the scammer pretends to have romantic feelings for a victim in order to gain their affection and then uses that goodwill to persuade the victim to send money to the scammer under false pretenses or to commit fraud against the victim. It is possible for fraudsters to gain access to a victim’s money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, email accounts, or national identification numbers; or to coerce victims into committing financial fraud on their behalf. These types of scams are frequently carried out by organized criminal gangs, which collaborate to defraud a large number of victims at the same time.
The amount of money lost to romance scams each year is greater than the amount of money lost to similar internet scams, such as technical support scams. Dating and romance scams are rampant both offline and online, with fraudsters posing as love interests in order to defraud unsuspecting victims out of large sums of money and property. Because more people are becoming isolated and lonely as a result of the pandemic, and because the internet has become their primary means of communication, we are seeing an increase in the prevalence of online romance scams, according to the FBI. However, as the statistics on romance scams demonstrate, this type of scheme is not new.
Many victims of dating scams were under the impression that something like this could never happen to them. However, it is surprising how convincing criminals can be, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to the heart. According to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), romance scams cause the most financial losses in the United States, more than any other type of scam. This type of scam cost victims $201 million in 2019, representing a whopping 40 percent increase over the previous year and more than a six-fold increase since 2015, according to the FBI. In 2020, reported losses as a result of romance scams totaled a whopping $304 million, representing a 50 percent increase over the previous year.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, gift card romance scams increased by 70% in just one year. In addition, a large number of victims sent money directly to their scammer via wire transfer. A company that screens online profiles on behalf of dating companies was interviewed by the Better Business Bureau for its 2018 romance report. Every month, it examines 3.5 million profiles and discovers that, on average, 500,000 of them are bogus accounts. According to a BBB expert, there could be as many as 25,000 scammers online at any given time, communicating with victims.
CHAPTER 2: How Do Dating Scams Work?
Dating and romance scams are most commonly perpetrated through online dating websites, but scammers may also communicate with victims through social media or email. They have even been known to call their victims to introduce themselves as a first step in the process. These types of scams are also referred to as ‘catfishing.’ Scammers typically create fictitious online profiles in order to attract you to their site. They may go by a fictitious name or pretend to be someone they know and trust, such as military personnel, humanitarian aid workers, or professionals working abroad. They will express strong feelings for you in a short period of time, and they will suggest that you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as a phone call, email, or instant message. They frequently claim to be from Australia or another western country, but they are actually traveling or working in another country.
Try to Form a Relationship of Trust Under False Pretenses
Those who wish to gain your interest and trust will go to great lengths, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information,’ and even sending you gifts. They may spend months cultivating what appears to be the romance of a lifetime, and they may even pretend to book flights to visit you, but they may never show up in person. Once they have gained your confidence and your defenses have been breached, they will approach you and ask for money, gifts, or your banking or credit card information (either subtly or directly).
Additionally, they may request that you send them photographs or videos of yourself, possibly of a private nature. Frequently, the scammer will claim that they require the money for a personal emergency of some sort. For example, they may assert that they have a critically ill family member who requires immediate medical attention, such as an expensive operation, or they may assert that they have suffered financial hardship as a result of a string of unfortunate events, such as a failed business or mugging on the street. The scammer may also claim that they would like to travel to see you but that they are unable to do so unless you are willing to lend them money to cover the costs of their flights and other travel expenses.
They Will Subliminally Try To Bribe You With Gifts
Occasionally, the scammer will send you valuable items such as laptop computers and mobile phones and ask you to resend them to a different location after you receive them. They will invent a reason as to why they require you to send the goods, but this is simply a ruse to conceal their criminal activity from the authorities. Alternatively, they may ask you to purchase the goods yourself and ship them to a specified location.
It is possible that you will be asked to accept money into your bank account and then transfer it to another person. In some cases, the scammer will inform you that they have a large sum of money or gold that they need to transfer out of their country and will offer you a share of the proceeds. Your money will be demanded by them on the grounds that they must cover administrative costs or taxes. Dating and romance scammers can also pose a threat to your personal safety because they are frequently affiliated with international criminal organizations. It is possible that scammers will attempt to lure their victims overseas, putting them in potentially dangerous situations that can have tragic outcomes.
It doesn’t matter how you are conned; you could end up losing a significant amount of money. Every year, online dating and romance scams defraud millions of Australians out of their money. The money you send to scammers is almost always impossible to recover. You may also experience long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone you believed to be your friend or loved one in return. To solicit contact from others, romance scammers create personal profiles using stolen photographs of attractive people in order to solicit contact from others. Catfishing is a term used to describe this practice. Photographs of unknown African actresses are frequently used to trick the victim into believing they are speaking with the person in question. Military personnel from the United States are also impersonated, as pretending to be a member of the military explains why the scammer is unable to meet with the victim in person.
For this reason, the scammers rarely meet their victims in person, let alone over a video call, because they don’t look anything like the photos they send them. They deceive their intended victims by making plausible-sounding excuses for their aversion to showing their faces, such as claiming that they are temporarily traveling or that their web camera is broken in order to avoid meeting in person. Love poems, frequent contact through emails, and the development of a “loving relationship” with many promises of “one day we will be married” are all examples of how scammers know how to “play” their victims.
Communications are exchanged between the scammer and the victim over a period of time until the scammer feels they have established a strong enough connection with the victim to request money. To trick victims into sending money, scammers prey on their false sense of being involved in a relationship. Requests for fuel money, bus or airplane tickets to visit the victim, medical or educational expenses, and other items are common. The scammer usually makes the promise that they will one day accompany the victim to the victim’s residence. They may be invited to visit the scammer’s homeland. In some cases, they will arrive with requested gift money for family members or bribes for corrupt officials only to be beaten, robbed, or even murdered. The scam usually comes to an end when the victim realizes they are being scammed or when they stop sending money to the perpetrator.
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There is No Time For Vulnerability
Fake love and romance promises are made to lonely people all over the world by criminal networks who prey on their vulnerability. When looking for new victims, scammers create profiles on dating websites, non-dating social media accounts, classified websites, and even online forums. In order to establish trust with the victim, the scammer will typically attempt to obtain a more private method of communication, such as an email address or phone number.
The fact that the scammers work in groups means that someone in the group is always online and available to send email or text messages to the victim at any time of day or night. In text-based messages, it is difficult to distinguish between different scammers who are all claiming to be the same person. However, if a different person showed up for a face-to-face meeting or if a video or telephone call was conducted, it would be obvious. The use of apps such as Google Hangouts to communicate with victims is becoming more common among romance scammers, according to one observation.
Others con their victims by using online games such as Words with Friends and Scrabble to deceive them. Victims who aren’t actively looking for a relationship appear to be targeted by some of these tactics, which are described as follows: A total of $640,973 was reported lost as a result of 142 scams on Google Hangouts, and a total of $598,075 was reported lost as a result of 38 scams on Words with Friends. Transfers by bank account accounted for 33.8 percent of all losses. A total of 30.8 percent of losses were attributed to “other payment methods,” which include gift cards for services such as Google Play, iTunes, Steam, and other platforms.
These findings were corroborated by the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, which reported that gift card romance scams increased by 70% in 2020. In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission, victims primarily sent gift cards through the mail, but they also provided pin numbers for digital gift cards, as well. According to a Federal Trade Commission report focusing on older adults, romance scams resulted in the greatest losses for scam victims over the age of 60. Adults between the ages of 60 and 79 reported losses totaling more than $80 million, with over-80s reporting losses totaling $3.3 million.
In 2020, this trend continued, with people over the age of 70 suffering the greatest individual median losses, with each individual losing $9,475 dollars. The year 2020 also saw a significant increase in the number of victims aged 20 to 29 years old. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this age group experienced twice the number of romance scams in 2020 as they did in 2019. Even though the median loss for romance scams was $2,600 in 2018, victims over the age of 70 reported a median loss of $10,000 during the same time period.
Uncovering how dating scams can quickly turn victims into criminals is the subject of a 2019 BBB report. A “money mule” is a person who acts as a middleman between people who want to send money to fraudsters who are often in a different country. A recent report includes an estimate from Terrill Caplan of Fraud Aid (a non-profit organization that advocates for fraud victims) that 20 to 30 percent of romance fraud victims in 2018 may have been used as money mules, according to the report. The FBI reported that the pandemic resulted in an increase in the number of people who were duped into romance scams and money mulling in 2020 and that this trend has continued to this day.
Global Statistics Surrounding Dating Scams
In 2020, Romance Scam Victims in Canada Lost More Than $18.5 Million
In 2019, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) received nearly 1,000 reports of romance scams, according to the organization. Reports were received from 682 victims who collectively suffered losses totaling $19 million, with an average loss per victim of $28,000. Despite the fact that this is a significant sum, it is a decrease from the previous year’s figure of $22.5 million.
In that year, 760 people suffered financial losses averaging $30,000 each. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center, 620 victims lost more than $18.5 million to predators who pretended to be in love in 2020, continuing the downward trend that began in 2009. However, it is estimated that the total number of complaints reached approximately 900, indicating that even greater losses may have occurred.
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Scams Cost Australians At Least $56 Million in 2021
Scammers defrauded Australians out of a total of $634 million in 2019. A significant portion of this ($83 million) was due to romance scams, although investment scams were responsible for a larger portion of the loss ($126 million). This heinous pattern continued into the years 2020 and 2021. So far, losses for 2021 have totaled $56 million, but it is expected that this figure will rise as more information is gathered. In addition, it is believed that scam losses in Australia are vastly underreported, with one-third of victims failing to report scam losses, according to research.
A significant number of the scams listed above in Australia were reported directly to Scamwatch, an organization run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This year, the organization received reports of 4,000 romance and dating scams, resulting in losses of $28.6 million AUD. And approximately one-third of these scams were perpetrated through the use of social media. In 2020, similar trends were observed, with social media being identified as the primary attack vector for romance scams once more. The Australian Federal Police estimate that around AU$23 million will be stolen via social media in 2020, based on official figures.
Instagram was the most frequently reported social media platform, accounting for 8.8 percent of all romance scam reports. However, Facebook dating schemes had the greatest financial impact on victims, accounting for 7.3 percent of all losses reported. Despite this, online dating sites continue to be the most common source of romance scam reports, accounting for 17 percent of all reported incidents. Moreover, according to statistics from 2020, those over the age of 55 are the most likely to suffer the greatest financial losses as a result of romance scams. Females submitted 54.9 percent of the reports, while males submitted 43.3 percent of the reports. The disparity in terms of monetary loss, on the other hand, was significantly greater. Women suffered a loss of $21.5 million (approximately 75% of the total), while men suffered a loss of approximately $7 million. People in the 45–64 age range were the most likely to be affected, with 1,470 reports and losses totaling more than $18 million recorded in this group (around 63 percent of the total).
Middle-aged Females in Italy Are Increasingly Being Targeted
According to a study conducted in 2020 by a group of Italian researchers, 63 percent of social media users had fallen victim to a romance scam at least once in their lives. This is in contrast to the general population, which accounts for three percent of the total. The study went into greater depth to determine the characteristics that were most likely to be shared by victims. Women, middle-aged women, higher levels of neuroticism, tendencies toward romantic idealization of affective relationships, sensation seeking, impulsiveness, and susceptibility to addiction were all identified as risk factors.
In the Year 2020, The UK Romance Fraud Led to About £68 Million in Losses.
The most recent data from the United Kingdom is from 2020. It paints a similarly bleak picture to other parts of the world when it comes to the losses incurred as a result of romance fraud. Romance fraud reports resulted in more than £68 million being paid to criminals in 2020, according to the anti-fraud organization Action Fraud.
Victims suffered an average loss of £7,850 per person. Romance scams have increased by 20% in the last year, with victims transferring money to criminals via bank transfers, as reported by the authorities. It was discovered in a 2019 Action Fraud report that females account for 63 percent of romance fraud victims and that women suffer losses that are twice as great as those suffered by male victims. The average age of a victim was 50 years old. According to victims, romance fraud has had a significant impact on their financial well-being or physical health in 42 percent of cases. According to a study conducted by ESET in the United Kingdom in 2020, more than half of respondents admitted to being more vulnerable to catfishers around Valentine’s Day as a result of loneliness.
Thirteen percent of those who answered the survey said that using online dating sites or apps makes them more vulnerable to cybercrime. A study conducted in 2015 looked into the psychological effects of online dating scams. It was discovered that the majority of victims found the loss of their relationship to be more upsetting than the financial losses. Some victims were found to be coping with their situation through denial, which made them more vulnerable to extended schemes, according to the findings of the study. The sophistication of romance scams has increased in recent years, and it has become common for fraudsters to create a web of online accounts to aid in the verification of their story.
Rather than just creating an online dating profile, they might also create accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, a bank, and other sites in order to “prove” their identity, among other things. In addition to creating fictitious accounts, many fraudsters will have a number of “associates” who will work together as a team to commit fraud. As an example, you might have additional scammers posing as business partners, attorneys, family members, friends, and other acquaintances. All of them are working together to increase the credibility of the scheme. The situation can be thought of as a group of actors performing a show, albeit one with sinister consequences.
“Catfishing” is a term that refers to a scheme in which someone assumes a false identity in order to gain access to confidential information. According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom, more than one-quarter of respondents who used online dating sites had been catfished within the previous 12 months. Another 21% reported that they had been approached by or provided financial assistance to someone they met on the internet or through social media. One of the factors contributing to the success of romance scams is the fact that an increasing number of people are finding true love on the internet these days. In the United States, heterosexual couples met online in 39 percent of cases in 2019. Furthermore, in the United Kingdom, approximately one in every three romantic relationships begins on the internet. Research suggests that more than half of all relationships will begin online by 2031.
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What Are the Various Types of Dating Scams?
Military Dating Scams
Military romance scams are a type of imposter scam in which fraudsters are posing as service members emotionally manipulate victims into sending them money, gift cards, or sensitive information. Fraudsters posing as service members, usually from foreign countries, are the target of military romance scams. Every one of these romance scams follows a similar pattern; fraudsters create fictitious profiles on dating apps, websites, and social media sites to defraud people.
They will use real photos and conduct research on real service members in order to create a believable persona for themselves. After that, they look for vulnerable targets. People who show support for the military, whether through their social media profiles, membership in Facebook groups, or donations to veterans’ charities, are the most frequently targeted. Once you’ve entered into an online relationship, things can quickly escalate. In a matter of weeks, they could confess their feelings for you or even propose to you. Many scammers work in groups and share scripts and formulas that manipulate your emotions and impair your ability to make rational decisions.
Once you’ve been seduced, they begin to ask for favors. The money, gift cards, or sensitive information they obtain may be used for identity theft and extortion purposes. When you realize they’re a con artist, they vanish into thin air. You’re humiliated and have suffered a loss of the money taken from you as a result. First and foremost, these con artists can take advantage of our lack of understanding of the military protocol. Do you know if service members are required to pay for their own food or if they are allowed to take time off? Few civilians are aware of the specific rules that service members are required to adhere to.
Following that, service members are frequently stationed in remote locations and are unable to meet in person. This provides them with the perfect justification to keep the scam going long enough for you to become a victim. Finally, many people believe that they owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served in the military. These con artists have honed their skills in manipulating people’s emotions. Sadly, many victims continue to engage in the “relationship” even after they become aware that they are being conned by the scammers.
Warning Signs of Military Dating Scams
They Are Unable To Access Their Bank Account
Military romance scammers will frequently claim that they are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of their deployment overseas. Perhaps they are unable to log into their account, or they are unable to deposit their regular paycheck and require assistance in obtaining funds. If you send them money, on the other hand, they’ll always have an excuse as to why they won’t be able to repay you.
Furthermore, if you provide them with your banking information so that they can “deposit” their pay, they will use that information to commit financial fraud and empty your account. In almost every instance, the most straightforward way to identify a military romance scammer is simply to ask them for money. If you haven’t met them in person, don’t send money or banking information to them. And don’t believe the images of checks they send you in the mail. These are extremely easy to forge. Sign up for a credit monitoring service that will notify you if there is any suspicious activity or fraudulent transactions on your credit report. You’ll be able to tell if someone is attempting to steal your banking information in this manner.
They Require Funds to Cover the Costs of Food and Housing
They claim that they require money in order to pay for food or housing is another common military romance scam. Soldiers are fed and housed by the military, however. They are not required to reach out to civilians in order to cover these types of costs. What you should be aware of is that the military provides housing and food for troops who are on active duty.
They Ask You to Keep an Important Parcel for Them
A more recent military romance scam involves a scammer asking to send you a package, which you accept. They will claim that they have something valuable and that they need to get out of the country immediately. For starters, they can now use your home address to perpetrate a change-of-address scam or other forms of identity theft, such as financial fraud. However, the more likely outcome is that the “package” that they send you will become stuck in customs for an extended period of time. You simply have to pay a fee in order to have it released. The scammer will assure you that you have nothing to be concerned about and that the package is worth more than the fee. However, once you have paid it, another fee will appear (or the scammer will disappear). Please keep in mind that soldiers and servicemen will not send you mystery packages or ask you to pay customs fees.
Fake Dating Sites
Unlike regular scam websites, scam dating sites are dating services that claim to offer legitimate meetups but are either severely underpopulated or inundated with scammers, making them a slightly different proposition. An increasingly popular scam involves websites that ask you to create a profile that will be used to harvest your personal information for commercial gain. Pay attention to registration questionnaires that are light on dating details but heavy on financial questions or that request information such as your mother’s maiden name or your first school (i.e. answers to common security questions).
Some free online dating sites may appear legitimate at first glance, but after you’ve been a member for a while, you’ll be able to see through their facade. A survey with questions that are similar to those used in banking may be sent to you with an offer for a free premium membership or some other exclusive benefit in exchange for completing the survey and answering the questions. No matter what incentives are being offered, you should never divulge any information that could be used to gain access to your private or financial information.
Also, be on the lookout for a sudden influx of attention shortly after you’ve created your account. If your profile contains only a few lines of text, no photo, and no indication of your preferences, but you begin to receive message after message from potential suitors, you may have fallen victim to dating site fraud.
Code Verification Scams
A common Tinder scam is the one described above. It consists of receiving an email or text message asking you to confirm your Tinder account. Tinder may send you a message claiming that it is updating its records and that you must verify your account in order to continue.
Other variations of the scam involve an online Tinder match who requests that you verify your identity before engaging in any further communication. In these examples, the scammer encourages you to verify your account by clicking on a third-party link provided by the scammer. You will be asked for personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email, Social Security number, birth date, and even your bank account or credit card information once you have clicked through to the website. However, Tinder does include verified accounts, but this is done in-house by the Tinder team. Users are directed by the app to take a series of selfies, which are then compared to the photos on their profile to ensure that they are identical. As a result, be extremely cautious when using any other method of “verification.”
When a scammer claims that they must marry in order to inherit millions of dollars worth of gold left by a father, uncle, or grandfather, this is known as a marriage proposal scam. According to tradition, marriage is a prerequisite of the male relative’s will. A young woman contacts the victim and informs her that she is unable to remove the gold from her country because she does not have the funds to pay the duty or marriage taxes. Once the scammer has established a sufficient level of trust with their victim, they will ask for money to assist them in transporting the gold to the victim’s country. So that the scammer can prove they are genuine, the victim agrees to pay for the scammer’s plane ticket to their country of residence. The scammer, it goes without saying, never shows up. Also, Click here to find more Article and News about different kind of scam
Protect Your Assets & Wealth Against Dubious Dating Scams
Online dating scams frequently prey on unsuspecting victims. However, by understanding the most prevalent catfishing scams and how to avoid fraudsters, you may avoid falling victim to romance fraud and instead form genuine relationships.
If you haven’t met the person in person, don’t send money to them. Always keep in mind that the approach could be a scam, especially if any of the warning signs listed above are present during the conversation. Make every effort to keep emotion out of your decision-making process, no matter how caring or persistent your ‘prospective partner’ may be. Carry out an image search of your admirer to help you determine if the person you are interested in is really who they claim to be. You can use image search services such as Google or TinEye to find what you’re looking for.
If you want to Skype with each other, be on the lookout for things like spelling and grammar errors, inconsistencies in their stories, and other signs that it’s a scam, such as their camera not working when they say it will. Avoid disclosing too much personal information in a dating profile or to someone with whom you’ve only communicated via the internet. Scammers can use personal information such as your last name or place of employment to manipulate you or commit identity theft in order to gain your trust.
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