The global lockdown of 2020 has meant an increase of using mobile and other online devices. Not only are people using technology for research, watching movies, and scrolling out of sheer boredom, many rely solely on their devices for connection with friends and family.
The lockdown has cost us a lot when it comes to face to face interaction and much needed meaningful human connection. However, this has unfortunately meant an increase in internet fraud like never before: specifically, with romance scams.
According to the President of Social Catfish, the number of people who have had their photographs stolen has tripled since March 2020. The Federal Trade Commission claims that romance scams have increased by 40% since last year, costing a total of $200,000.
How Do Romance Scams Work?
Romance scammers have been using social media platforms to develop trust and the illusion of a romantic relationship with victims. They will take on a false or stolen identity and be very intentional about building an online relationship — sometimes quickly.
As soon as there is a little bit of relationship, the scammers will manipulate the victim into sharing personal information or robbing them almost blindly.
Romance scammers are very good at what they do; they will come across as genuine and very believable. However, there are a few signs to watch out for to avoid being scammed in this way.
The Methods In The Madness
It’s important to be aware of the methods these romance scammers use in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Here are a few methods to be aware of:
Off-Shore Identity Theft
Fraudsters will steal the identity of people who might be off-shore workers, simply because they would be able to give an excuse for not being available to meet up in person, or even on FaceTime.
Another excuse not to meet up in person or even on a video call has been due to Covid. For obvious reasons, this excuse has been very believable in this past year.
Covid-19 Emergency Funding
Romance scammers will trick their victims into believing that they are in need of money for a Covid emergency. A state of emergency tugs on the generous heartstrings of humanity in general, let alone that of a potential lover.
An Overly-Sweet Demeanor
The scammers come across as overly-sweet, lovesick, or generally too good to be true. They might be hopelessly romantic, send love songs, or sweet-talk you into their trust.
Pressure To Move Quickly
There’s nothing like a bit of a thrill in timing when it comes to all things romantic. We watch movies where the main characters meet, fall in love, and get married within the two-hour span of a movie. This thrill can be a trap when it comes to romantic scams online. Fraudsters might offer marriage or try to move the relationship along quickly; this should be a red flag.
Tips To Avoid Being Scammed
The best thing you can do to avoid being scammed is to be aware…and then share the news with those around you.
Here are a few tips to avoid being a sucker of love in these romance scams:
- As a general rule of thumb, don’t give money to anyone you meet online.
- Never share your personal information with anyone you meet online. When people ask for personal information, this should always trigger your alarm bells, online or offline. Be very aware who has access to your personal details.
- If you meet someone online, don’t get hoodwinked into the hurry; take things slowly. If there’s a sense of pressure, this should raise some questions.
- If someone randomly contacts you online, be wary.
- Request a video chat to confirm someone’s identity. Often these scammers will avoid video calls or meeting in person. Don’t fall for someone who might not exist, or might be a stolen identity.
- Get hold of a published scammers playbook. Scammers sometimes use a reference book for all the communication between them and their victims. You might want to compare your conversations with a scam playbook to be certain as well.
Unfortunately, internet fraud has increased over the past few years, and we suspect it will still increase even more as technology becomes more innovated. This is why we are all about providing the right information straight to your screen, so you can steer clear of becoming a victim. Keep a lookout on the Anti-fraud news feeds for the latest in fraud news and scamming tactics. Awareness is your best line of defense.