Online romance scams are on the rise in recent years. Victims of these scams are left with broken hearts and empty bank accounts. It’s hard to know exactly how many people get caught up in these horrific crimes each year because a lot of victims are too embarrassed to report it to authorities. Plus, finding the culprits is not as straightforward as you might think. Online scammers are based all around the world, making it extremely difficult for authorities to catch these criminals.
Dating sites and social media platforms are a great way to meet new people, especially during the ongoing pandemic. Sites like Judith Prays have published information on lots of popular dating sites. With experts advising us to stay indoors to help reduce the spread of the deadly virus, people have been socializing online more than ever before. However, there are a lot of cybercriminals out there looking to take advantage of vulnerable people looking for love on the internet.
So, if you think you are being scammed there are certain things you should look out for. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of these signs.
Most Scammers Avoid Phone Calls
Most of the time, online scammers are based overseas, however, many of them claim they live in a different country. They worry that if one of their victims calls them they will give away their scam due to their accent. If you are in love with someone, you’ll more than likely speak with each other regularly, so if the person you meet online avoids speaking with you over the phone or on a video call, then this is a major red flag.
The other issue they face when giving their genuine telephone number to their victim is that they know they will have to provide them with the country code. They often tell their victim that they don’t have a local number, so they can only chat through messaging services and emails.
They Tend to Rush In
It’s not uncommon for scammers to say those magic words, “I love you” in the early days of the relationship. For someone to express such strong emotions without meeting the person in real life is another typical sign you’re in contact with a scammer. This is another common tactic scammers use when trying to get private information or money out of their victims. Lots of people who are desperate for love fall into this trap, and they feel that the scammer is trustworthy because they are in love with them.
If a person you meet online says things like “I love you” during the start of the relationship, even if you have been messaging each other back and forth for hours each day, take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this normal?”. If you find yourself asking this question, it probably is a scam.
Common Things Scammers Claim they need Money For
Scammers often claim they need money for emergencies. If anyone you meet online asks you for financial support, especially if you have never met them face to face, you should decline, no matter how desperate they sound. Scammers are great at making people feel sorry for them. They do so by making up stories so their victims send money to them to help resolve the situation. Here are a few common storylines that you should watch out for:
- My mother is sick in hospital: This is a classic storyline scammer that has been using for several years. Clever scammers will have planted the seed in their victim’s heads long before they ask them for money. They often tell their victim how close they are to their mother, and all of a sudden she has been rushed to hospital, and without your financial support, she will be unable to afford these extremely expensive medical bills.
- I need money for my visa to visit your country: When a person is applying for a visa for another country, they sometimes have to prove that they have sufficient funds in their bank account so they can financially take care of themselves while abroad. Scammers tell their victims that once they have been granted their tourist visa that they will return the money. To extort more money from their victim they sometimes say that they haven’t been granted the visa, so they need more money in their account.
- I have gambling debts: Gamblers often borrow money from dangerous loan sharks to help fund their habit. If they are unable to pay, they might find themselves in serious trouble. Scammers sometimes tell their victims that they need money as soon as possible to pay off an outstanding gambling debt, and if they don’t pay up they are going to be physically harmed. Victims often feel sorry for the scammer, and send money immediately.
- I need money to pay for a funeral: Again, this is another trick to make the victim feel bad for the scammer. Losing a loved one is hard, and not being able to pay for the funeral makes things even harder.
If you have come across any of the above, you’re probably dealing with a scam artist. If you tell the scammer you are unable to send them the money they need, don’t be surprised if they get angry. At the end of the day, the only reason they are talking to you is to extort confidential information or money.
How can you Avoid Online Scams?
Luckily, there are plenty of things that you can do to avoid being scammed such as:
- Find out if their profile is legitimate: You can do a cross-check online for the person’s photograph, name, address, email address, etc.
- Speak with a friend or a family member: Don’t be afraid to speak with a loved one about your situation. Romance scammers are known to isolate their victims from their family members and friends because they worry that they might have a negative opinion of them. Speak to a person you know who is not afraid to give their honest opinion.
- Never send money: If they ask you to add credit to a gift card, wire cash, put money on a reload card, or send money over the internet, the chances of getting that money back are highly unlikely.
- Don’t be afraid to report it: Although it is hard to track these scammers, make sure you report them if you have been scammed.
Online dating sites and social media platforms are always on the lookout for scammers. They worry about their members and the reputation of the site or the platform, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help if you feel like a scammer is trying to take advantage of you.
There are lots of genuine, honest people looking for love on the internet, so don’t let these scammers throw you off looking for someone special online. However, you have to keep your wits about you. If you are going to meet someone you have met online, organize a meeting in a public place. There are a lot of dangerous people out there, so meeting a person you have never met face to face in private is not a good idea. If you are worried about meeting them for the first time, even if it is in a public area, consider asking a friend to join you.
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