- In 2019, more than 25,000 consumers filed reports with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding romance scams.
- FTC data from the same year disclosed that consumers lost approximately $201 million because they were swindled in a romance scam.
- Financial losses due to romance scams increased almost 40% from 2018 to 2019.
Intrinsically, human beings are social creatures who crave for love and affection – and there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, scammers know this all too well. In recent years, the number of consumers who have fallen victim to scams, while searching for that special someone, has increased significantly. The resultant cost to consumers was $201 million of their hard-earned money. In this week’s post, we will review a romance scam, demonstrate a few real-world examples of a romance scam, and provide you with the knowledge needed to identify and avoid such scams.
What Is a Romance Scam?
A romance scam is a type of fraud where a criminal adopts a fake persona to gain a victim’s trust and/or affection. This type of scam leverages the fact that humans are social beings, who tend to lower their guard around those they trust most. This confidence makes the victim more susceptible to being scammed. Once the scammer has gained the victim’s trust, he/she will attempt to steal money from the victim. Typically, the scammer will use the guise that he/she needs money to address some crisis, or to travel to meet the victim. Romance scams tend to occur online via email, social media, or dating apps, but can also be conducted in person.
Examples of a Romance Scam
Romance scams come in a variety of forms, but some of the most common narratives are:
- The overseas service member who is looking for love and someone to come home to after their deployment.
- The lover who works overseas and suddenly needs money for a medical procedure.
- The lover who can not wait to see you but needs your help to pay for their plane ticket, visa, or other travel expense.
How to Combat Romance Scams?
While romance scams are effective, they are not fool proof. The following tips can be used to identify and avoid romance scams:
- Conduct a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. Frequently, the scammer uses an image that is associated with another individual, and this is a huge red flag!
- Use a search engine, of your choice, to see if there are scams associated with the person’s proclaimed occupation. You would be surprised at what you can find online if you type in “overseas service member scam” in a search engine.
- Get a second opinion from a trusted friend or family member. We often tend to turn a blind eye to red flags when they concern people that we are genuinely interested in. Luckily, friends and family are pretty good at spotting those red flags from a mile away. When in doubt, talk with someone you trust.
- NEVER send money, gifts, or other items, to a person you have not met, unless you are 100% sure that the individual is who they claim to be and that their intentions are true.
If you unintentionally sent money to a scammer, O’Mard Consulting Services, LLC recommends that you immediately contact your financial institution, or the platform that you used to send the scammer a form of currency! If you have any question regarding romance scams’ best practices, or scams in general, send us a message and we would be glad to assist you! Do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tricks of the trade.