Digital Romance – Is it Safe? | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

Social media creates an opportunity for young women and men living in socially conservative non-western societies to be able to communicate, meet and even engage in ‘forbidden intimacies’ and ‘forbidden behaviours’. We regularly see plenty of online stories on dating apps and social media expressions, where men and women who pose as wealthy individuals promising love and marriage and then disappear once the victims are financially/sexually exploited.

The alarming number of such cases reported lately reflects the flagrancy of the problem and what we have noticed is most of the victims are middle-aged men and women from well-to-do upper-middle-class families who are educated and have access to technology.

Top four digital romance scams

(i) Proposal turns extortion
(ii) Pretty woman is a man
(iii) Making gay man pay
(iv) I have your sex recording

Most common romance scams in India

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The pattern observed in many of the cases is the threat of video recordings of sexual acts: Mr. X was working as a software professional in a highly reputed MNC firm and is often busy with the system and as the privilege of work from home has been extended during Covid-19, he was also on social media 24×7 on mobile.

Someone pinged on WhatsApp, saying “Hey :)”. On curiosity he checked the display picture and she looked like a model and he started chatting. She was very friendly and said she was in the same colony. The entire story felt too good to be true. A couple of days passed by, she started flirting and teasing him and he became curious and continued conversations with her. One day she responded: “Hey 🙂 would you like to have a look at me, let me surprise you who I am?” And she insisted that he be in a closed room.

She started undressing live slowly and got nude and Mr. X pleasured himself live on WhatsApp. The experience quickly took a U-turn, when the woman told him she had saved pictures/screen recordings of their brief cyber-sex session and was going to send them to everyone he knew. She demanded money to stop that. He panicked, and paid money in ransom (Sextortion) in lakhs.

Tips to identify the romance scammer

* Scammers are adept at copying stuff (fancy profiles) from websites and use them for communication.
* Inconsistencies between dating profiles and other public profiles
* Love at first sight
* Interested in engaging in intimate activities online
* Sending short links to access their profiles
* Create fake stories like family members unwell or processing visas or sending gifts
* Someone unknown is trying to flirt or come nude in a live session

How to safeguard yourself

* Never chat online, date or get emotionally involved with without verifying who they are
* Never send money or personal details to online strangers or online social media friends
* Online follower asks to communicate outside dating website or social media platform after only a few conversations
* Do a or Google Reverse Image Check ( ) image search of your fan to identify them
* No sharing of intimate pictures or videos online. Scammers blackmail targets using shared pictures or videos


Remember that there are so many traps in digital romance. It could be fake profile pictures, fake profiles, unclear motives, unbalanced emotional people and unclear past behaviour.

(The author is the founder of End Now Foundation)

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