Love makes the world go round! Yes, but there are times when it can become a losing experience, and we are not talking about relationships here, we are referring to money loss. It can be a double whammy- first it hits you in the heart and then the wallet! A lethal combo indeed. Because that is what online romance scammers do, they hit you with these one-two sucker punches. Valentine’s Day has just passed and now we can talk a bit about what some unscrupulous people have been doing in the name of love.
An online romance scam refers to a fraudster who tries to manipulate money from a victim in the name of love. It sounds like a tough task, but it seems the strategy is quite successful, considering the amount that romance scammers have been able to steal from gullible, love-lorn, people. A report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals that there is nearly an 80 percent rise in romance scams in 2021 as compared to 2020. And shockingly, romance scammers got away with a total of $139 million and that to in, of all things, cryptocurrency. This is five times more than the amount taken in 2020. The crypto payment angle in romance scams makes for a huge chunk in the whole amount, which is $547 million, that Americans lost in 2020 while finding love.
Many people use online dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, or messaging apps like WhatsApp, to find new love and online scammers know very well how to make money out of this situation. These scammers generally create a fake profile with a randomly picked profile picture (usually photos of good-looking men and women) from the internet and then go fishing for new friends. When someone responds to them positively, they build up trust and once they succeed in moving the relationship into the so-called ‘zone of love’, they start playing up the tragedies in their life. In short, they are preparing to make the victim to give them their money by narrating a fake story to make them believe that they are in urgent need of money. In this process, they will always make excuses not to meet the victim in real life. These romance scammers are quite good at what they do, as is clear from the amount of money they have stolen.
However, you can make sure not to fall victim to any romance scams. Just do this.
How to know if it’s a romance scam
Most of these scammers try to have a conversation on other social media platforms instead of dating apps. So, after making the initial contact on an online dating app, they will try to make the victim leave it an instead carry on the relationship over other apps like WhatsApp. If they are in a hurry to talk to you on other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram then know that something something is wrong.
Also, they will always make excuses to not meet you in real life and will cancel the plan at the last moment. Know it’s a red alert for you!
When someone you’ve met online requests payment in gift cards or cryptocurrency or wire transfer, it’s better to say no than falling for a scam.
Most importantly, never send the money, gifts, or cryptocurrency to strangers- those whom you have never met in real life- no matter what.
If you are having a doubt bout someone, then the good trick is to do the reverse image search of their profile photo via Google tool to see if the person’s identity has been used somewhere else or not.
Not just a romance scam, but a lot of people try to convince you to put your cash into an unknown cryptocurrency scheme. Never fall for offers that are way ‘too good looking’.