Many people will argue that love shouldn’t cost a thing, but over the last three years romance scams have resulted in more than just financial losses for victims. Between 2015 and 2018, more than $1 billion dollars in losses were recorded from victims in Canada and the United States combined, but there were also countless cases of emotional and psychological trauma. The statistics and reports strongly suggest that Romance Scams may have a spot on the Better Business Bureau national list of Top 10 scams for 2018.
“Long cons lasting from several weeks to several years have duped thousands of victims into fictitious relationships with someone who does not exist,” says Karla Davis, Manager for Community and Public Relation at Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mainland BC. “They fell in love with crafted personalities, identities, and fake photos that were made believable by stolen credit cards and compelling stories.”
Scammers have learned about the imperfections of online dating and have exploited this to their advantage. Because of this, when you go searching for love in the modern world, enjoy the convenience it provides, but also get into the habit of questioning who is at the other end of your conversation and what their intentions are.
A scammer can learn where you work, where you live, where you go to the gym, the car you drive, your license plate, how often you travel, the name of your children, and where they go to school from simply looking at your photos and reviewing your profile. The people who lazily create passwords become easy targets for identity theft, as the answer to the security question “Who is your current employer?” is sitting right there on your social media or dating profile for everyone to see.
This is also why catphishing scams are so successful. Scammers research their potential victims prior to initiating contact with them. They are able to “always say the right things” and create the image of a person who you will find attractive, and eventually trust enough to give money to, because many times victims unwittingly give them all the information they need.
As a result, when you see the profile of someone that you are interested in, BBB advises that you do a reverse image lookup using a website like www.images.google.com to see if the same photo appears elsewhere. Also research their profile name, email address, and telephone number where possible.
Additional online dating tips:
• Never send money to someone you have never met.
• Look out for pressure to leave the dating website to communicate through email or texting, or instant messaging platforms like Whatsapp.
• Be wary of over-affection, flattery, and plans for the future, especially after just a short period of knowing each other.
• If the person avoids meeting you or there are always excuses for not meeting up, this could be a scammer.
Looking for love has never been easy. Looking for love in the modern world is even harder. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or distracted by activities, people you love, or the desire to find love, try to take a step back and regroup. Do not end up compromising your personal safety, emotional stability, and financial security in the search for love.
If you are a victim of a romance scam, report it to BBB using Scam Tracker (www.bbb.org/scamtracker), and help put an end to victimization and heartache by scamming.