With the rise in scams, particularly those online, the Delta Police Department, in conjunction with the Optimist, is running a monthly article to help residents stay safe from fraudsters.
Have you recently met your special someone online? Someone who has quickly expressed their love for you despite never having met you?
Crucially, has that person asked you for money? If they have, you may be the victim of a romance scam.
While countless lucky souls have met the love of their life through online dating sites, scammers are using these sites along with social networking sites to fleece lonely women and men of their life savings.
Typically, the scammer will set up profiles in a fictitious name, using photos they’ve found elsewhere on the Internet. They might present themselves as living locally, but currently working or volunteering overseas, such that they can’t meet in person.
Once they’ve initiated contact, they shower their prospective victim with attention and kindness. Many months might pass without the mention of money, while the scammer develops the online relationship. Eventually, the scammer asks for money, either for an emergency or to fund their return home to unite with the victim.
One incident after another is imagined by the scammer, inducing the victim to continue paying. The relationship is often so real to the victim many refuse to believe it’s a fraud, even after depleting their bank and credit accounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars for someone they’ve never met.
If you recognize any of the above in your current online relationship, follows these tips:
• Don’t ever give any money, especially by Western Union or wire transfer. Instead, discuss the situation with a family member or friend you trust;
• If you’re not certain your partner is real, search for them on Google. Most real people leave traces of themselves online; if there are none to be found, they’re probably not real;
• Try doing an online image search of your partner’s profile picture, as it may be found elsewhere on the Internet under other people’s names;
• Don’t share “racy” photos with people you have not met, as they could be used for blackmail later.
If you feel you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, or if you suspect someone you know has been victimized, contact your local police.