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5 Scams Women Should Watch Out For

5 Scams Women Should Watch Out For

The quest for love and companionship in the 21st century has altered the way most of us view the world. Thanks to the internet and its prolific dating sites, you can now reach out to a potential love interest on the other side of the world and express your feelings, all from the comfort of your couch. This is a stark contrast to the good old days when meeting a partner relied on introductions by family and friends or encounters at social events, bars, or clubs.

“Don’t let scammers break your heart or your bank.” ~ Anonymous

While the process of meeting someone and building a relationship took longer back then than now, these interactions were also more genuine. With the rising popularity of online dating, those who used traditional methods to find love have, to some degree, given way to those who now depend on the “like” and “swipe” buttons of their smartphones to determine their compatibility with a match.

 
   

However, it has ushered in an influx of con artists who hide behind their screens to exploit people’s vulnerability, desire to connect, and willingness to trust. To grasp the devastating impact these fraudsters have on the dating scene, consider this FBI report: In 2021, 24,000 Americans fell victim to romance scams and suffered a whopping $1 billion in losses.

If there’s one thing this report proves, it’s that love swindlers have no intention of letting up. With this in mind, how do you navigate the perilous world of online dating and keep yourself safe? Let’s find out.

Dating Scams

What is a Romance Scam and How Does It Work?

In the most basic sense, a romance scam is a type of fraud where a scammer, often posing as a romantic interest, establishes a fake relationship to exploit a target emotionally, financially, or both. These scams typically occur on online dating platforms, social media, or through email communication and are notorious for the level of trust and intimacy they inspire.

Romance scams generally entail:

 
   

Creating a Fake Profile

A scammer creates an attractive and convincing online persona, often using photos and information of other people to lure their victims. They may adopt the identity of a military person serving in the Middle East, an NGO worker on a foreign assignment, or a wealthy businessman on frequent international business trips to build credibility. Tags like “dog lover,” “single dad,” “widowed,” and “spiritual” or “religious” are common on such profiles to make them even more compelling.

Initiating Contact

In most cases, scammers contact potential victims, but first, they create a soft communication launch pad on which they can safely make their moves. This is particularly crucial for those who are savvy and don’t want to come across as desperate. One strategy involves engaging with a potential victim’s public comments, either by agreeing or giving a similar opinion on the topic they mentioned.

This approach may repeat at various intervals, gradually creating a sense of familiarity. At this point, a more in-depth conversation unfolds in the DMs. It’s a bit quite different on dating sites, as the intention from the get-go is romantic in nature. Regardless, scammers still get to know you—your likes, hobbies, aspirations, and more, which they use to formulate their plan of attack.

Building Emotional Connection

Over time, your conversations with the scammer could evolve into sharing personal and intimate details. Before you know it, you’re in a committed relationship with this person you’ve never met and only interacted with online.

Asking for Financial Assistance

This is where fraud comes into the picture. As the scammer grows confident in the relationship (amateurs don’t wait for long), they’ll suddenly spring a monetary emergency or request an urgent favor. The ploy they use varies; however, some common stories you may hear include:

  • Having financial troubles after an accident or getting sick and having to pay for emergency care.
  • Being stranded abroad with no money and needing your help to return home.
  • Wishing to get a Christmas gift for their little one who’s back home and misses them dearly.
  • Unable to withdraw cash from the ATM due to security restrictions, but will be back in the country soon and pay you back for the help.
  • Requesting money for emergency travel due to an ailing relative’s medical condition.
  • Demanding payment for the goods they intend to send, but you have to pay the shipping fees first.

Soon after you oblige their request, they’ll continue to reach out with more needs and excuses that push you to shell out even more money. The next thing you know, you’re drained of cash and can no longer afford your rent, bills, and other financial obligations, including helping out your own family members.

Vanishing Into Thin Air

This is the final act. After obtaining money or sensitive information, the scammer typically disappears. They may block you or vanish from the online platform, making it difficult for you to trace or report the fraud.

What Dating Scams are the Most Common?

As the romance scam scene becomes more sophisticated, you may find it challenging to identify which scams are most prevalent. Besides, all of them are unique and use different techniques. However, if we categorize them, the most common include:

Blackmail

The perpetrators of this type of fraud may target a specific community or group, such as lesbian or gay singles. They pose as someone who shares your sexual orientation and then initiates a relationship with you, even going as far as having a video call before springing a surprise. They then threaten to out you to friends and family if you don’t grant them financial assistance.

Emergency Schemes

Scammers have a knack for generating a sense of urgency, a crafty skill unique to their deceitful tactics. They often make up a sudden, fantastic event that demands urgent financial intervention. This could range from fabricated emergencies like critical surgeries or life-saving medications to more outlandish tales, such as paying a ransom for a supposedly abducted sister in a war-torn nation. And best believe, they always provide seemingly convincing evidence to support their claims.

Money Muling

If you’ve ever received valuable items like money, smartphones and watches, PCs, and even game consoles from an online lover or a stranger requesting that you resend them to another location, then you’ve likely been a victim of this fraud. The common excuse is that the delivery agent or shipping company can’t ship the package directly, so you assume the role of a mule. This type of scam is dangerous as you may unknowingly become an accessory to money laundering.

Phishing

It’s easy to ignore messages and emails from random strangers that tell you to click on a link or download an attachment. However, if the sender is your romantic partner and their request appears genuine and urgent, you may act fast, without thinking twice—a grievous mistake that can compromise your safety and drain your bank accounts. Why? Because such links and attachments contain malicious viruses or spyware that can hijack your sensitive personal information.

Romance Baiting Scams

This relatively newer scam typically starts with online dating as the point of entry. But then it transitions into a transactional scheme in which you invest in a bogus project with the hope of expecting a substantial return. But as expected, it’s a dead-end street that never leads to your goals.

How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

To avoid falling victim to a romance scam, follow these steps:

  • Use Nuwber to run a background check on your match and confirm their identity.
  • Reverse image search your online date’s profile pictures to check if they appear elsewhere or if they’ve been taken from someone else.
  • Avoid sending money or valuable items to someone you haven’t met in person, and don’t share sensitive information.
  • Before accepting any requests or favors, consult with a trusted friend or family member for advice.

If you’ve been searching for love on the internet, you’ve probably come across a number of “too good to be true” profiles that seem to be tailor-made for your preferences. Before you dive into a relationship with someone, take the time to do some online dating scam research and learn how to identify if someone is genuine. Thankfully, you have this guide at your disposal to help you get the job done.

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Tuesday
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5 Scams Women Should Watch Out For

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