The FTC reports that the number of online romance scams has increased threefold in the past two years. Victims of such scammers have lost more than 200 million dollars in 2019. What’s more, romance scams were the second most-reported type that year. In this article, we will explain how to avoid a romance scam.
To outsmart a scammer, you need to recognize some specific warning signs. If you have failed to recognize the red flags and fell victim to a scam, it’s not the end of the world. In this case, you will need to act fast before the damage becomes excessive.
If It Seems Too Good to be True, It Is
Their profile seems too good to be true – you’ve been looking for this person all your life. Amazing, right? In fact, this is a major red flag. Other signs of a potential romance scam include: this person claims to live very far away; your relationship seems to be moving too fast; they are in dire financial need for some heartbreaking reason, or they promise to visit you but never do.
To protect yourself from such a scam, you can start by evaluating your digital presence. The more you share, the more vulnerable you become. If you use more than one dating site, you should use different usernames. To protect your privacy, you can use different emails as well. Moreover, you should be careful with what you post on social networks or anywhere else on the Internet.
Arrange a Video Chat
You’ve shared so much with each other, but neither of you knows what the other one looks like. While seeing someone’s face is not a safety guarantee, it will give you a lot to go on if the person turns out to be a scammer. Therefore, you should arrange a call or video chat as early on in the relationship as possible. If they are not willing to make or receive a call, you can consider this behavior suspicious. Alternatively, they might be very shy, so you should consider this possibility, too.
Do a Reverse Image Search
These days, nearly everyone has an online presence on online dating and social media platforms. Don’t be afraid to do a bit of snooping. View your cyber sweetheart’s social media profiles. Do a Google image search of any profile photos to see if they used them on other sites. You can right-click their photo, click “copy,” and go to images.google.com, where you paste their photo. You might come across one or two sites they are registered on with that image. Also, you’ll definitely get a lot of similar photos. A third possibility is getting a link to a stock photo site. If the person used a stock photo image for their profile picture, they might be a scammer.
Whatever You Do – Don’t Give Them Money
Would you give someone you just met on the street a large amount of money? If you answered “No,” then why would you do it online? You should never, under any circumstances, send money or gifts and do not provide your financial information to people you have met online.
Take It Slow
While the Internet can be an amazing place to develop a friendship or relationship, you should take it slow, just like in real life. Watch for inconsistencies in their stories and vet everyone you meet as thoroughly as possible.
Don’t Send Personal Photos or Videos
Never send personal videos or photos of yourself to someone you’ve never met in real life. They might use them to blackmail you.
Refer Them for Help
A common romance plot involves someone located outside the US claiming they have had an accident and need money. In this case, you can refer them to a
One of the worst things about online romance scams is the emotional pain you feel when you find out someone you trusted has lied to you. You may feel depressed or humiliated after falling victim to a scam. If they lured you into criminal activity, there may be long-term legal consequences for you. The emotional and financial costs can leave you in a dire situation. If you suspect you’re being scammed, you must cut off the scammer completely. Specifically, you should block their email and/or phone number and report them to the dating site.