Who are romance scammers targeting?

Romance scams cost Americans about $143 million last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The number of cases reported to the FTA jumped from 8,500 in 2015 to more than 21,000 in 2018.

Romance scammers increasingly take advantage of people who are looking for love online. These criminals join dating websites and have social media accounts. They use dating apps where they pretend to be interested in prospective victims.

You could end up losing a lot of money and get tangled up in crime after the dust settles. Besides the financial toll, victims’ personal information is often being used to facilitate identity theft afterwards.

Contact police immediately if you think you may be a victim of a romance scam, or any other kind of fraud!

If you feel you cannot talk to anyone about possibly being the victim of a romance scammer, contact me confidentially.

Does your bank care about online scams?

The Canadian Bankers Association offers a free fraud prevention seminar for seniors as part of their Your Money Seniors financial literacy seminar program.

You are ultimately responsible for any funds you withdraw from your own bank account. You can spend your money any way you want to, so your bank cannot stop you from wasting your money.

Nowadays, bank staff pay attention to potential romance scams and other forms of exploitation of their customers. They may flag your transaction if you suddenly withdraw more money than usual, so don’t be surprised if you get strange questions. For instance, they may ask who you sent your money to, and why.

Con artists understand emotional triggers. They know how to get potential victims to provide them with personal details, gifts, and eventually with money. They use fictional names or pose as professionals such as aid workers or military personnel.

Using a fake profile (with stolen photographs of attractive people) is known as catfishing.

Signs that you may be a victim of a scam

Once a romance scammer believe they have ‘lured you in’, they will start expressing their ‘strong’ emotions rather quickly.

They want to move the relationship away from the original dating website. They need to be able to communicate with you via instant messaging, email or by phone. That is where scammers’ crafty techniques work the best, in isolation.

Once a scammer feels they have connected sufficiently with their victim, they will start asking for money. Their initial requests may be for money for bus or airplane tickets, to visit their victim. This usually escalates to an urgent need to pay medical or education expenses.

Scammers may also ask you for pictures or videos, propably of an intimate nature. These masters of ‘manipulating human emotion’ target their victims when their defences are down. Romance scams most often affected people between 40 to 69. Those obove 70 were scammed out of an average of $10,000 per person last year.

Why not just ‘walk away’ from a fraudster?

There is usually some promise the scammer will one day join their victim. The scam usually ends once the victim realizes they are being scammed, i.e., stops sending money. Last year’s figures show that this is is a viable business model for criminals!

Are you susceptable to online fraud?

You may be thinking there is no way that you will reveal your SIN number to someone you have not even laid eyes on. Scammers are very good at what they do!

They ask for personal details under the guise of needing a birthdate, Social Security number or your bank information to help complete a Visa application.

You may see ‘helping’ them as merely providing them with ‘travel information’ if you are lonely enough and have been groomed sufficiently. Therefore, you probably are susceptable to online fraud.

What do you do if you are a victim of a romance scam?

Don’t be too embarrassed to report the crime.

Speak up if you believe a friend or family member may be falling for a fraudster!

If you feel you cannot talk to anyone about being the victim of a romance scam, you can always contact me confidentially. Over the years, I have seen a lot of suspicious behaviours and I can likely help you to determine if you are in trouble.

I can confidentiually look at the electronic conversations you may have had with suspected swindlers. I may have to connect to your computer via my secure SOS remote connect service.

Check out my home page to get an overview of what else I can do to help you.