DVIDS – News – Romance Scams: A Public Service Announcement | #lovescams | #military | #datingscams

There is a modern love story that parallels much of “Cupid and Psyche,” a tale within the Roman novel “The Metamorphoses of Apuleius,” aka “The Golden Ass” and that is — the romance scam.

A Cupid maliciously appears to shoot arrows (over the internet) at a Psyche, so that she (usually a female victim) might fall in love with something hideous (a criminal imposter). She succumbs to a dangerous curiosity and enters into a relationship with someone she cannot see (Cupid in the dark). A Psyche is held captive (by his charming chat and emails) but left feeling lonely, depressed and abandoned. Her faith in love is tested on multiple occasions with absurd tasks (like wiring thousands of dollars) with Worry and Sadness (her two handmaids) whipping and torturing her.

Unlike “Cupid and Psyche,” the heroine of a romance scam rarely learns the true identity of her ‘love.’ She is left unmarried with no Assembly of the Gods, no happily-ever-after and usually no conflict resolution. The loneliness and emotional vulnerability a victim feels are compounded in a romance scam because predators usually choose a target who cues himself/herself on social media to already be lonely and emotionally vulnerable.

Predators portray themselves from the start as someone a victim can trust; often the image chosen is that of a U.S. service member.

According to cid.army.mil, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims who state they got involved in an online relationship with someone, on a legitimate dating website or other social media website, who claims to be a U.S. Soldier. CID advises to report the romance scam to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Romance con artists cajoled more than 21,000 people into sending $143 million, according to a 2019 FTC report, costing Americans more money than any other fraud.

It might seem strange for someone to fall for a person they never met in real life, but if one considers that 61% of Americans reported they are lonely, according to a recent Cigna study, one might begin to see how someone could fall into a love trap.

Loneliness has been found to be a predictor of internet addiction, and a cyclic relationship between loneliness and excessive internet use can exist wherein the more lonely people are, the more they use the internet, which then leads to greater loneliness, according to a panel study by Mike Z. Yao and Zhi Jin Zhong, published in 2014 in the journal, “Computers in Human Behavior.”

According to the FBI, targets are often divorced, widowed or disabled women over 40, and scammers are usually working overseas in organized criminal syndicates sharing information and tactics with one another.

They contact targets online with flattering words. They chat, sometimes over weeks to form a connection. They will usually keep fake profiles and share pictures they ripped off the internet. They may send flowers or other gifts, but eventually they will ask for money, usually under the precept of an emergency, and if they get it, there will be another emergency. They will ask again.

The Army CID recommends not to send money, to remember that many of the negative claims made about the military and the supposed lack of support and services provided to troops overseas are far from reality, and to be very suspicious if the person you are corresponding with wants you to mail anything to an African country. Soldiers and their loved ones are not charged money so that the Soldier can go on leave. A general officer will not be a member of an internet dating site. Soldiers have medical insurance for themselves and their immediate family members (spouse and/or children), which pays for their medical costs when treated at health care facilities worldwide — family and friends do not need to pay their medical expenses.

So, if you know someone in a state of emotional distress from lacking desired interpersonal relationships, and they talk about an online love who only corresponds by personal email or messaging, who claims love almost immediately, who says they’re traveling or working internationally, and/or who asks for money without meeting face-to-face, you will want to intervene and save them from more Worry and Sadness.

Date Taken: 02.14.2021
Date Posted: 02.14.2021 10:44
Story ID: 389049
Location: COLUMBUS, OH, US 

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