Romance scam | Be alert and skeptical | #datingscams | #lovescams


Valentine’s Day is a globally observed day dedicated to the expression of love, devotion, and gratitude towards our loved ones. It is often linked with amorous acts like presenting flowers, chocolates, and cards, along with dedicating meaningful moments to cherished individuals. Under the feeling of affection and love, one has to be alert and sceptical about ongoing romance scams. Americans lost $1.3billion for romance scams in 2022. These scams are organised through social media contacts. Romance scams provide a significant danger that may impact individuals of any age, gender, or background. Scammers often create fraudulent internet accounts, assuming the identities of possible romantic partners, with the intention of exploiting victims both emotionally and financially. It is crucial for you to be vigilant and cautious due to their clever and persuasive approaches. This opinion article gives a snapshot review of this issue and how it has become a source of danger. Many such cases are underreported due to various factors.

Fiji: Rise in cases of romance scam

Fiji is also under the impact of romance scams as cautioned by many authorities. It was reported that: “The Fiji Police Force cautions the public about a new romance scam, with women being particularly vulnerable to falling victim… scammers frequently craft emotional narratives about their supposed partners to gain the trust of their victims” (FBCNews, Ritika Pratap, 17 Nov, 2023). Other authorities highlighted: “The fraudster lies about sending a package to them – this normally “includes” jewellery, cash, electronics, and clothing and notoriously requests for cash as customs/tax clearance”. https://www.facebook.com/consumersfiji/photos/a.730311020355318/5236221599764215/?type=3 Fiji Intelligence Unit (FIU) also shown concern on this romance scam, and said: “All of these individuals had lost some amount of money to cybercriminals. The most common element seen in romance scam is the existence of some form of social engineering where the fraudsters identify ways to gain the trust of the victims so they could ultimately send them money. The romance part is that in return for money sent to them is the promise to send you in a package some jewelry, cash, electronics and clothing items which will not eventuate. So once they build the trust then they ask you for some money.” (Robonu, Fiji Sun, 16 March, 2022).

Romance scam and statistics

Under this scam, consumers are tricked into forming a love connection with a non-existent person or someone who is pretending to be someone else, usually with the intention of obtaining financial benefits. These fraudulent activities often take place on online dating sites, social media platforms, or via email. The fraudster often establishes a rapport with the target gradually, and then solicits funds or sensitive data using several excuses, such as urgent medical situations, trip costs, or lucrative business ventures. Some statistics on romance scams need to be highlighted, and the favourite lies and means of transaction are given below as reported by Federal Trade Commission: Protecting American Consumers. On many occasions, the fraudster may portray oneself as very beautiful, accomplished, or perfect in ways that seem implausible. The scammers often exhibit rapid expressions of love or intense emotion, typically before any face-to-face interaction. Usually, these scammers make excuses to avoid meeting face-to-face or video conversations, such as asserting their presence abroad or encountering unforeseen situations. Gradually, the fraudster will solicit funds for different purposes, such as covering medical expenditures, travel costs, or financial difficulties. They could exert pressure on you to promptly provide funds or personal details, using your emotions. Measures that can be adopted to counter these romantic scams when encountering individuals online who seem excessively flawless or provide excessively dramatic narratives, it is crucial to scrutinise their motives. Steps should be taken to authenticate the individual’s identification by doing web searches or using reverse image searches. It is highly recommended that you refrain from disclosing confidential personal details to anyone you have just encountered on the internet. One should refrain from disclosing financial information and transferring funds without checking their identity. One needs to follow your instincts and exercise caution before establishing contacts.

Conclusion

If you have any slightest doubt that you are falling prey to a prey of romance scam, it is crucial to immediately terminate all connection with the person involved and promptly notify the appropriate authorities or internet platforms about the occurrence. It is recommended to get appropriate assistance from acquaintances, relatives, or professional counselling resources in order to manage any emotional or financial consequences.



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