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That ‘handsome’ naval or marine officer you’ve been speaking to and texting online for the last few weeks or days suddenly develops an emergency, maybe his ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ has fallen ill and needs surgery. The poor widower says her money is stuck somewhere and asks if you are able to help out.
Appealing to your good side and compassionate nature is the modus operandi of many love scams. It is sad but true that kind and lonely hearts often want to help and this is how these white-collar criminals lure their victims.
Romantic scammers exploit emotions in order to steal money. Excuses can range from “my brother died suddenly, I can’t cover the funeral costs, I am supporting my sister’s children’s tuition or college, I am the sole breadwinner in a big family supporting elderly parents” and the list goes on and on.
These scum of society really have resulted in many lonely often middle-aged women parting with large amounts of money, sometimes their entire life savings in order to ‘help’.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) these dedicated romance scammers stole $304 million in 2020 alone with a median loss of $2,500 per victim. That’s just in the US, closer to home in South East Asia we are reading about people losing their entire life savings due to these long cons.
These scammers often initiate relationships with their victims through online dating websites, social media sites or professional networking accounts. They assume fake identities to lure the victim and very often say they are widowed with young children using pity play to trap their victims.
Romantic scammers are patient and have Machiavellian skills in manipulation. Their targets are often female (though it happens to men it is much rarer), lonely, middle-aged, well-heeled, and impulsive in the sense that they tend to make snap decisions.
Protect yourself from these artful scammers by looking out for the following:
Eager to commit– If they confess everlasting love after just a few days it’s a possible sign of trouble ahead.
Tragic stories– The more dramatic the back story the more on guard you should be, this can include anything from losing a family in a plane crash to a child with leukaemia to a wife dying of cancer. Unfortunately, there are people who really have had real tragedies occur but these conniving scammers have no problem using any of the above as Greek tragedies in their lives.
Urgency-They always have a sense of urgency about them. “I urgently need money, someone is very sick”. There is almost always an impending deadline or huge emergency that only money can solve.
Don’t use cryptocurrency– In 2021, the FBI reported losses amounting to $133.5million as a result of cryptocurrency love scams.
Never set up a new bank account-It doesn’t matter if it isn’t your money. Love scammers will try to move illegal funds through your new account which can make you liable for money laundering.
Do video calls-That way you know who you’re talking to as the love scammer is terrified of this and will find any reason to avoid it.
Be careful not to send any compromising pictures or videos– This one is obvious, they will use it to blackmail you later on.
Always talk to your friends and family– Get a second and third opinion. Don’t keep your new romance a secret and if you’re reluctant to do so then check with them about things like cryptocurrency, or hacking on social media and what or how much information is safe to give out.
Google/Social Media/LinkedIn– If he really is a naval officer, Air Force pilot or ex-Marine, he is very likely to have at least a professional presence online. Do your homework and stay safe.
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