Have you ever questioned whether your long-distance love is who they think they are, or if you’re being duped?
If not (especially if you haven’t met in person yet), you should think about it.
Long-distance partnership schemes (or romantic scams, as they’re often known) are surprisingly popular. In 2017, the FBI issued over 15,000 files related to romantic scams in the United States. The most of people concerned had submitted money to the con artist.
Do you want to know anything much scarier? According to the FBI, about 15% of these crimes are ever registered.
You may believe you are too intelligent to fall for anything like this but don’t underestimate how effective romance scammers are at getting money out of people. When you see the fraud specifics set out in simple type, the situations we’ll discuss below can seem clear, but they can be rendered to seem extremely believable when they happen step by step and the feelings are involved. In reality, according to a recent Sydney Morning Herald study, the online dating scams they analyzed had a conversion rate of more than 50%, implying that more than half of people targeted by romance websites end up losing money!
But put your ego down for a moment and read this article—it might save you thousands of dollars and a lot of heartaches.
I’ll explain how romance scams typically operate, describe 5 different romance scams, 5 common indicators you’re getting scammed, and 9 tips to defend yourself below.
5 Common Romance Scams in Long-Distance Relationships
Romance scams are often associated with organized crime. Real, some scammers are people, but several are part of a syndicate. They are essentially calling centres with several partnerships being managed. And their conversion ratios demonstrate that they are excellent at what they do.
So, how do they begin?
A scammer, on the other hand, marks you as a possible target on social media or an online dating platform. They harass you online and learn about your interests and dislikes. And, as they interact with you, they claim to share all of your interests. This promotes a fast and deep sense of attachment.
The scammer would often pose as a practitioner working abroad, such as an American veterinarian operating in Dubai. Or a soldier from Australia, a British specialist serving on an oil platform, or a humanitarian relief worker. Scammers posing as educated women living in the Philippines or Thailand can target men. These kinds of stories offer semi-plausible explanations for them to find video calls difficult to produce, and (later) why they need your assistance.
Following the initial touch, the scammer would spend weeks or months cultivating you, calling you daily, asking you lovely things—things you want to know, delivering presents, and earning your affection and confidence.
They ask for money once you’re emotionally invested in the relationship. If you give them money, they would normally ask for more, inventing new reasons that they need more money from you. And yet again, and again, and again… Any wise people have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in this manner.
Here are five typical forms a scammer can render the request.
1. The bogus medical emergency
Perhaps a family member becomes critically ill and requires funds for emergency treatment or life-saving treatment. Or there is a traffic crash in which they or other family members are wounded and need financial assistance for emergency attention. The options are limitless.
2. The meet-up swindle
They tell you how much they want to come to see you… if only they had the capital. However, once you account for their fare and/or visa fees, they are further delayed or never arrive.
3. The Anniversary Fraud
They use holidays (such as Valentine’s Day) and unique “relationship anniversaries” (such as “4 weeks ago we met and our lives changed forever”) to apply for funds for a noble cause (such as the ones listed above) rather than a “gift.”
4. The frozen bank account or credit card fraud
One common variation on this is based on the meet-up scam: The big day has arrived; they’re going, and you’ll get to see them! Except… they call you to say they’re at the airport, ready to come to visit, but their credit card was denied. They desperately need a loan to pay for the plane fare and board the plane. Of course, they’ll reimburse you back until the credit card matter is settled.
Or they’re in another world (scammers often act as people travelling or staying overseas for work) and their bank account has mysteriously been frozen. They need funds for an immediate cause. Could you link it to them?
Still, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always For eg, no actual member of the military from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom should ever be asked for money for service-related accommodation, medical treatment, or administrative fees. Never, ever.
5. The sexual extortion scheme
The scammer here needs you to get (ahem) almost naked. If you partake in any sexual chat or play through a webcam, or submit any pornographic images of yourself, scammers would love you. If you do not offer them money, the scammer will attempt to take them to your relatives, friends, or coworkers (or simply post them online with your name and other identifying details).
5 Tell-Tale Signs You’re Being Scammed
The most advanced con artists are very difficult to detect. Their English would be excellent, they will always call you, they will give you flowers and presents, and they will spend months (if not years) cultivating a strong friendship with you.
Thankfully, several scammers are still not on that stage. Here are five indicators that you might be a victim of fraud.
1. You communicate online and they express strong emotions for you after just a few interactions.
They could comment or write that you’re “the one,” or that they love you. They will say stuff that will conjure up images of happy romance in your head, such as, “I can’t wait to marry you and keep your hand and show the entire world how much I love you.”
2. Once you meet on a dating forum, a scammer would want to drive you away from the site as soon as possible to connect through private chat or email.
They also do this by claiming that they have just discontinued their membership or that they can just deliver a handful of messages for free on the dating platform. They would tell you this stuff, and provide you with an email address and an invitation to communicate by email. Or they give you (very attractive) pictures and promise to send you more via email.
3. The tone and design of their tweets contradict what they say for themselves.
For eg, they can claim to be university trained, to hold a skilled job, or to be from a Western world, but their English is bad and their emails include strange spelling and grammar errors.
4. They are just interested in communicating by email (or maybe telephone). They would not participate in a video chat for you.
They keep raising arguments for not having a camera or because the internet capacity is insufficient to support content. This last explanation is especially possible since the internet does not accept video very well in many parts of the world (remember, the scammer normally pretends to be overseas for technical reasons).
5. They still have a valid reason that you can’t meet in person.
Maybe they’re in the army and on active duty, whether they’re employed as a contractor on an oil platform, or… there might be a variety of excuses that they can’t reach you right now. The same situations (they’re stranded on the oil platform, they can’t get into their civilian bank account) can be used to set up the “ask.”
9 Ways to Protect Yourself from Scams
So, if scammers are that effective at convincing people to hand over money, how can you defend yourself? Well, indeed!! Here are 9 perfect ways to prevent yourself from being led on an unpleasant “romance journey.”
1. From the outset of every new online partnership, accept the risk of getting scammed.
When the passions are active, it is very difficult to admit that you are being duped. Once we’ve “fallen” for somebody, we’ll deliberately want reasons to think they’re telling us the facts. But proceed with care when entering into any new online partnership.
2. Examine their photographs.
To see if the images have appeared anywhere, use the free Google Image Search. Drag or upload a photo into the search box by clicking on the camera button. Google will display to you that the picture has appeared on the internet. You may be able to find out whether it has been used before or whether it has been recorded on a spam list.
3. Continue the discussion on the dating forum for a little longer.
Any scammers would want to get you off the dating platform as soon as possible since dating platforms are becoming great at finding and removing scammers’ profiles. So, when you’re exchanging your first texts, linger on the dating platform.
4. Do some internet study about your current romantic interest.
Check out 7 Easy Ways To Background Check Anyone You Meet Online for more details.
5. Examine the content of their posts.
Often con artists operate strictly from templates. Cut and paste any of your latest online friend’s messages and see whether identical or quite close messages appear.
6. Examine the source of their letters.
Computers, laptops, and tablets also have an IP address that identifies the country of origin. Per email contains a header that includes the IP address of the user that sent it. You will learn how to search and review an email’s header to determine the IP address of the user that sent it here. You will also learn how to locate the estimated position of the IP address by clicking here.
7. Request a video chat with them.
Few scammers would want to appear on film with you. They’ll come up with all kinds of reasons why they can’t, but take those lies with a grain of salt. In this day and age, not having access to a webcam is suspect—especially for trained professionals—regardless of where they operate.
8. Should not send personal photos or images to someone you have not met in person.
Intimate photos and videos will come back to haunt you in two respects. After a bad divorce, the ex can use them as “revenge porn,” or a scammer may use them to rob you.
9. Never give money to anyone you haven’t met face to face.
Even if you aren’t getting scammed, if somebody you’ve just encountered online wants financial assistance, it means they (a) aren’t successful at handling their finances, and (b) don’t have a good, trustworthy network of friends and family that can help them out throughout a crisis. Both of these factors should make you reconsider if you still want to be in a relationship with this guy.
No, seriously, boys, this last statement needs to be reiterated. I realize you think you’re too good for this, but you may be wrong.
So, before you start dating online, make it a personal rule that you will never submit money. That way, you’ll be more prepared to say no if you’re ever asked for money because chances are you won’t be thought logically by the time you’re asked. You’ll be speaking in your heart more than your mind. Your heart may want to support someone you care for because your heart is kind and sweet if a little sad.
So, can you keep an eye on the lonely heart? It will save you thousands of dollars and, even more significantly, a lot of pain.