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A woman from the United States has revealed how she was conned out of a staggering $92,000 by a romance scammer she met online.
Kathy from Illinois met what she thought was the love of her life on 50+ dating website SilverSingles. She described her online catch as a “handsome older gentleman” and the pair were soon communicating every day through text and phone calls.
Soon they were calling each other “life partners” and he was inundating her were heart emojis and declarations of love. It seemed to be a match made in heaven, but it wasn’t to last. The classic red flags of a scam soon started to surface.
He couldn’t meet in person because of work which kept him away. Plans to meet had to be scrapped because he needed to head off to Toronto on a work assignment. And then, inevitably, the requests for money started.
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According to his story, he was in an accident at work and needed money for surgery since the hospital would not accept a check. Photos of injuries as well as the man’s bank account were sent via text to assure Kathy that everything was legitimate and she’d ultimately be repaid.
But more problems kept coming up, and the man on the other end of the phone continued to ask for money for a plethora of emergencies.
And then Kathy’s friend recommended Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler about a conman who would fly young women around the world before asking them for money to pay for various “emergencies”. In reality the man was tricking women to pay for his luxury lifestyle where he’d travel the world with other women. It was the classic “rob Peter to pay Paul” type Ponzi scheme. At that point the reality of her situation became apparent to Kathy.
She was being scammed by someone she thought she had fallen in love with online.
While the case of Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler tells the story of a professional conman who invites his victims to go on luxury holidays with him, this is actually rare since the majority of romance scammers will do everything possible to avoid meeting their victims in person since doing so puts them at risk of being caught.
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For most online romance scams, the cyber-crook needs to persuade their victims to send them money without having to ever meet in person. As such, most romance scams will involve a crook developing an exclusively online relationship with their victims (which can also involve phone calls) before making excuses as to why they can’t meet in person.
Such excuses can involve –
- Working abroad
- Working in the military abroad
- Stuck abroad without money
- Needing permits or paperwork to work or leave a country
- Unfairly fined or imprisoned by corrupt law enforcement or criminals
And once the crook feels that the time is right, they’ll ask the victim to send money. Excuses given by the crook can include needing money to travel, to pay bribes or fines, to pay for emergency medical expenses, to leave their work or because their wallet or debit cards were stolen.
In all cases, the crooks will emotionally exploit, manipulate and deceive in order to lure the victim into handing over money.
Such crooks will lure victims on both social media websites and dating websites, and these scams can range in duration between a few days to years.
The advice – the same advice which we’ve previously offered countless times on this site – is to simply never send money to anyone you’ve only met online. Such crooks can be extremely convincing and manipulative, and in the digital world of cyberspace, anyone can deceive you.
We have more information on romance scams and how to avoid them here.
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