Thanks to online dating scams, each year thousands of Americans who are searching for love end up with nothing but a broken heart and an empty wallet. While online dating and social media sites have become increasingly popular tools to find love and friendship, they’ve unfortunately also become popular tools for fraudsters known as romance scammers. These con artists create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. According to the Better Business Bureau, victims in the U. Older users, in particular, are more often targeted by this type of scam — and most don’t realize they are a victim until it is too late. We also have information about how to report a dating scammer if you or someone you love has fallen victim to one. Romance scammers are experts in social manipulation and can sound very convincing. Many of the signs of a romance scammer are subtle and insidious because the scammer is trying to build trust before they exploit you. Often times, the first sign of an online dating scam shows up when a romance scammer expresses strong emotions in a relatively short period of time. Guard your personal information carefully, and be wary if a new love interest asks for personal details soon after contact.
A number of factors have converged in recent times, spurred on by corona-vibes. The first is an increased probability of meeting online. Since , Tinder in particular has hastened the virtual-love frequency. Even in infancy, Tinder saw over 1 billion swipes per day. Many of those meeting people are new to online scams — both romantic and financial. In , Action Fraud received around 7 romance fraud reports every day.
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And if you decide to meet them in person, do so in a public place. Read more: how to report a scam.
If you thought online dating websites are on the rise, than you would be right. However, not everyone who creates a profile on these sites has honourable intentions. Most dating scams start innocently enough. Scammers contact victims via social media sites or through email, claiming common interests or a distant, mutual connection—such as an introduction at a wedding or other large gathering.
UK Finance data shows that £ million was lost to romance scams in the first half of , an increase of 50% on the previous year.
Romance Fraud in Covid-19: Just Swipe Right
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact. They have even been known to telephone their victims as a first introduction.
The growth of online dating has led to an explosion of catfishing and the combination of lust, infatuation or love means that innocent people can get manipulated or exploited. These relationships can go on for years and often end in tragic emotional or financial consequences for the victims. Catfishers can be driven by anything from loneliness to obsession or revenge. They can be motivated by the desire to live vicariously through a fake persona, to extort money from a victim, to make mischief or any number of other intentions.
Other sinister cases can involve sexual predators or stalkers who use this online anonymity to get close to their victims. There are several truly bizarre examples out there, like the girl who was catfished twice by another girl who posed as two different men.
Scam alert: romance fraud victims lose £50m
Does that online dating profile seem too good to be true? Are they avoiding meeting you in person? One in 5 people have either been asked for money or given money to someone they met online. A common tactic for scammers is to try to encourage victims to use other communication channels e.
If your new online relationship seems too good to be true, there’s a chance it could be. Here’s how to spot if you’re being scammed.
A failed relationship could give you a broken heart, but it shouldn’t leave you out of pocket. Scammers are drawn to dating sites because they know that the people on there are looking to make a personal connection, and they can use this to their advantage. The catfishing from the original documentary started on Facebook , but you can also be catfished on dating apps like Tinder, in chatrooms or even through fake video chats on Skype. If you come across a fake profile you should report it to the dating site or social network wherever possible.
Where catfishing can become illegal is if the scammer uses the fake profile to trick you into sending them money. This is fraud, and it is against the law.
£100,000 lost to heartless online ‘romance fraud’ scammers exploiting single people
Catfishing is when someone sets up a fake online profile to trick people who are looking for love, usually to get money out of them. If you’re online dating, read these tips so you know how to spot a catfish. If you’ve been scammed out of your money by someone who wasn’t who they said they were, there is help and support available. Get support. One way to do this is to look them up on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or to search their name in a search engine.
The Skinny:. United Kingdom UK Finance — the leading industry body for financial services in the UK, representing more than firms providing finance, banking, markets and payments-related services in or from the UK — stated that institutions have noticed a marked uptick in fraud groups attempting to get at customers through emails, texts, phone calls and more. In many instances, scammers are trying to use the fear and uncertainty around the pandemic as leverage — in some cases offering fake resources or avenues for personal protective equipment, or, for those out of work, access to desperately needed stimulus funds.
Stealing debit and credit card details, and draining a bank account, is only one prong of the larger battle plan. Then they disappear and credits come after you. How to spot a pandemic scam: inconsistencies, payment urgency. UK Finance also offered some overarching tips to better spot a Covid scam, including if:. Moreover, as part of a broader campaign to arm individuals from getting exploited at the outset, the group has condensed several powerful counter-fraud concepts into a simple, approachable and eminently shareable three-word directive: Stop, challenge and protect.
Are you a financial crime compliance professional? Worried about fraud schemes and scams?