How to spot and avoid romance scams
What are romance scams?
Romance scams happen when victims are deceived into ‘false’ relationships by fraudsters who aim to steal their money or personal information. It is typically carried out by criminals using fake profiles.
What are the signs you’re being scammed?
Scammers can be experienced in spinning stories to lure in their victims. Here are some red flags that might help you spot them. These include the following:
- They prefer to move communications away from dating websites. They may suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead
- They ask a lot personal questions about you
- They avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or don’t reflect reality. For instance, they may say that they’re university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor
- They try to establish a bond quickly. For example, they may give you an endearing pet name or tell you that ‘they’ve never felt like this before’
- They ask for financial help. They may also tell you about money problems frequently in the hope that you’ll offer to help
- You never meet them in person. They may promise to see you, but either cancel every time or offer excuses which delay meeting up, like financial troubles
- You perform a reverse image search of their profile photo and it seems to belong to someone else
How to protect yourself from being scammed
Dating websites and other applications can be useful tools for meeting someone new. Be careful when communicating with potential romantic interests. Here are some things which may help you avoid being scammed:
- Don’t share personal details
If you share personal information like your full name, date of birth and home address with a stranger, you may not know what they will do with it. Try not to share personal details online with people whom you already know, either – you may end up sending it to a fraudster pretending to be them. You should also be careful when picking your username on dating websites – don’t include personal information like your location (for example, ‘SallyFromLondon’).
- Don’t send or receive money
Do not send or receive money from anyone you have met online, no matter how convincing their story is. This applies to cash as well as your bank account, credit card or other financial details. If the request is coming from someone you think you know, check with them offline to ensure that it is really them.
- Use trusted dating websites
Fraudsters tend to want to take their criminal activity off reputable dating websites as soon as possible. They are likely to try to convince you to interact with them via social media or text messaging. This is so that the dating website has no proof of them asking you for money. If you are in touch with someone on this type of website, communicate with them through the site’s messaging services.
- Don not share personal contact details
Use a website that will allow you to keep your personal details private until you are ready to share them. These include your contact details, such as your phone number or email or home address.
- Think twice before using your webcam
Be careful when using your webcam with a new online love interest, even if it is someone whom you think you know. The footage could be used against you. This applies to cameras on all devices, from computers and laptops to smartphones and tablets.
- Trust your instincts
If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. Be careful!
How to report a romance scam
You can report fake dating profiles to the websites that they’re posted on. This will help the sites to close down any fraudulent accounts.
If you have lost money to a romantic scammer or think that they may have stolen your personal information, you can contact Action Fraud, which treats reports in confidence.
If you want to find out anything further about this topic then please feel free to call me on 01494 786000, 0207 240 2000 or 07961 116321. All conversations will be in strict confidence. You can also email me email@example.com.
This article is for information and interest only. It is not a substitute for full professional advice, which will take in to account the specific and individual circumstances. Navigate Business Recovery Limited cannot accept any responsibility for any loss arising as a result of any person or organisation acting or refraining from acting on any information.