Scammers and hackers use different tactics to break people’s wallets. However, sometimes they end up breaking their hearts too. This happens through the so-called ‘love’ or ‘romance’ scams. As their name suggests, these scams revolve around sentiments.
With the increasing number of dating apps, these scams have proliferated. Such is their extent that they generate millions of dollars every year. Love scams are here to stay. And the only way to avoid them is through caution. The more you know about them, the easier it is to stay safe. So, learn more about the 3-steps structure of online love scams.
In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) monitors this type of cybercrime. According to their data, these scams reached a record in 2020. This was calculated based on the losses they caused. And the impressive number is $304 million in losses in the US alone.
Scammers know where they can find victims. Naturally, they wouldn’t go searching for a date on LinkedIn. Instead, they use dating apps and websites. Additionally, many find victims on social platforms.
Scammers may sometimes pick victims randomly. However, some may take time to do their research first. This involves knowing the victim before approaching them. In this case, they look for particular features. For example, people who are easy to approach. With them, striking up a conversation happens naturally. Moreover, those who seem more willing to find a date are also good targets.
Usually, the more eager a person seems for companionship, the better for scammers. In love fraud, criminals leverage people’s emotions. Feelings like loneliness, the need to relate, or vulnerability draw them. Why? Because these are precisely the strings they pull to profit from others.
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These are the 3 steps you will find in most online romance scams.
1. Pampering the Victim
Romance scammers know they must conquer their victims’ hearts first. Afterward, they can easier get to their pockets. Dating app users look for companionship and affection. So, this is exactly what love scammers promise. However, there is a long way to go, and criminals are patient.
Some of them stick to the same target for weeks or even months. Additionally, they might try to trick multiple victims simultaneously. The initial stage of a love scam is the most difficult one. Scammers have to be cunning and seem genuine all the while.
The first step is the ‘get to know each other phase’. This is when the criminal has to be convincing to make victims believe they are truly interested in a relationship. To do this, they rely on emotional triggers. They spoil the victim with their attention and compliments. They approve whatever the person says or does. Furthermore, they pretend to have numerous things in common.
All these techniques are often effective. Hence the growing number of romance scams. Those who fall for love scams don’t suspect their online date of anything. This is because the place where they met justifies their behavior. Also, many scammers are quite good ad acting.
2. Building Trust
In the second phase of a romance scam, criminals further exploit their victims emotionally. This is the stage when they nurture their interest, curiosity, and affection. All the while, they start having more serious discussions. The purpose is to make them believe in the potential of their relationship.
Often, this is also the stage when scammers ask for a face-to-face meeting. This proposal is a very good strategy as it boosts trust. However, the live date will never take place. Victims who get to the second stage start committing to their virtual relationship.
Therefore, they feel more comfortable sharing intimate thoughts. Moreover, scammers do the same. This is the stage where deeper feelings and confessions come to light. Yet, criminals’ sole purpose is to win the person’s trust. Afterward, they can accomplish their true goal.
3. Asking for Help
Finally, the last stage of a love scam ends with a request. And this has nothing to do with romanticism. Since victims trust them, scammers now feel comfortable asking for money. Usually, this takes the form of a loan request. To increase their chances of success, criminals invent a critical necessity. Here are just some of the most common excuses:
- They were kidnapped and need to pay a ransom
- Traveling to a foreign country, they got stranded, and need money to return
- Someone threatens them as they have to pay a large debt
- They need to borrow money for an urgent surgery
- They need to pay bail to get out of jail
All these are critical circumstances and need quick intervention. Therefore, many victims rush to comply with the request. Some people lost tens of thousands of dollars in love scams. Unfortunately, many didn’t get their money back.
This happened especially due to the payment method. Criminals often transferred the money to offshore accounts. Alternatively, they asked for reload cards, gift cards, or cryptocurrency transfers. All these are harder if not impossible to track.
In conclusion, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, remember the structure of a love scam if you use dating apps.
Article by Mount Equity Group All rights reserved 2022.