How to Spot and Avoid Romance Scams
Falling in love is often what poets and romcoms describe; you meet a person who makes your heart flutter, you start dating, you fall head over heels in love, and you cannot imagine your life without that special someone that you trust and love. However, not all romances have a 'happily ever after'; there are plenty of people out there who search for individuals who are seeking love, and take advantage of their desires. Those romance scammers usually have a financial agenda, meaning they use their romantic partners to take their money and assets. To protect yourself from financial and emotional damages, you should get to know how to spot a romance scam and nip it in the bud.
What is a Romance Scam?
A romance scam is a scam performed by people who wish to gain access to their victim's finances or personal information. People who commit romance scams gain the trust and affection of their would-be victims and use the trust that they established to access the victim's money. In 2019, romance scams resulted in the loss of more than $450 million in the United States alone, according to an FBI report.
Romance scams are especially common in online dating sites and dating apps, where scammers can create a fake profile easily. Most scammers, also known as 'catfishes', take their time establishing trust with their victims, making victims more malleable to fraud.
Once the romance scammer feels that he/she has gained the trust of their victim, they will ask for money or other assets. Romance scammers also steal bank account information, social security numbers, email account passwords, passports, and other pieces of information that will help them get their hands on the victim's assets.
Common Romance Scam Lies
Romance scammers con victims out of money by using several elaborate lies, with the following being some of the most common romance scams:
- They are in the military
- They are a doctor working for an international organization
- They are working in an oil rig
In many cases, the romance scammer will tell his/her victim that they need money urgently for:
- Pay for surgery or a medical procedure
- Pay for a plane ticket/travel expenses
- Repay gambling debts
- Pay for official travel documents, such as a visa
The scammer will ask the money through a money wire or with a reload card or even a gift card. No doubt that romance scams are elaborate, so you have to be on guard and not to put your trust with every person that contacts you.
How to Avoid a Romance Scam
If you want to discover if someone is trying to scam you, you can use a people search service, like the one available to you on GoLookUp. The people search engine will provide you with valuable information about people who contact you, like their full name, aliases, criminal records, arrest record, and more. The search can be performed about individuals who reside in the US, but if you are speaking to someone who is overseas, a people search will not necessarily help you.
Instead, you should be cautious, and if someone that you are speaking with starts hinting about money, do the following;
1. Perform a reverse image search – scammers often use photos that they found online, and you can find out if someone used a picture of someone else with a quick reverse image search.
2. Tell your friends about people that you speak to – when you feel that you like someone that you met online, share it with your friends, and continue talking to them about that person. Your friends will tell you if something sounds suspicious, especially if you develop feelings for a person that make it difficult to see the truth.
3. Stop talking to the person – stop all communications and block the person that you suspect as soon as they start talking about money and finances.
If you think that someone has targeted you for a romance scam, you can report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) that will investigate the matter and help you stop the scammer. Being aware of romance scams and the tactics that scammers use to steal money and assets is extremely important, and if you feel that something does not make sense, trust your gut and stop talking to the suspicious individual. It can save you from fraud and financial damages.