Romance scams increasingly used as gateway for other scams, warns SAFPS | #daitngscams | #lovescams

Romance scams are hitting the headlines more and more often as this particular confidence trick bites victims around the world.

Online dating sites are fruitful terrain for these fraudsters, who not only break hearts but con victims out of huge amounts of money.

In South Africa, the number of online dating users is expected to reach 6.7 million by 2028 (Statista figures).

And the value of romance and business email compromise (BEC) scams amounted to R125 million already back in 2022, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). 

The Council does not separate the stats for romance scams from the BEC ones, but the figure in any case is probably higher due many victims feeling too embarrassed to report they’ve fallen for a con artist.

The SA Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) warns that romance scams are increasingly used as a gateway to run other scams, reports consumer journo Wendy Knowler.

“Last year, we profiled the prevalence of ancestry scams, where scammers use fake sangomas to take advantage of a person’s spirituality. These are used in romance scams where victims re urged to visit a sangoma to confirm whether their relationship will flourish.”

Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO – SA Fraud Prevention Service

Van Schalkwyk says the trend of not reporting these crimes hampers their work and may prevent other potential victims from falling prey to the same tactics.

He urges people to report incidents to the SAFPS or the police, and to make use of the recently launched Yima platform

It’s is a free one-stop-shop website for South Africans to report scams, secure their identity, and scan any website for vulnerabilities related to scams.

“When it comes to romance scams, Yima has a tool called Verify’m, which works in conjunction with Secure Citizen, by biometrically verifying a person’s identity against the records that the Department of Home Affairs has on file.” 

“If the biometrics don’t match the information you have on the person, or there is no information, proceed cautiously.”

Wendy Knowler

Knowler has some final words of advice:
Love yourself enough to protect your bank account from fraudsters posing as love bombing suitors.
When that request for money comes, let a huge red flag – not a heart – go up for you.

The YIMA scam hotline number is 083 123 7226

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