A romance or love scam is a fraudulent scheme in which a scammer or con-artist feigns a romantic interest in his victim, establishes a relationship, and then tries to obtain money or sensitive information from the victim under false pretenses.
Just in the US, recent victims of romance scams suffered personal losses of more than $ 290 million in a single year.
Romantic scams may happen face to face. As technology progresses, it is now possible for criminals to work through social media rather than any elaborate schemes or sophisticated technology. Catfishing, for example, isa deceptive activity in which a person creates a fictional persona or fake identity on social media.The practice may be used for financial gain, to compromise a victim in some way, as a way to intentionally upset a victim, or for some other gain.
The scammer usually creates a profile on a dating or social networking website using information that potential targets have made public. Usually, once the scammer gains the victim’s trust, he or she feigns being in love and starts directly or indirectly soliciting pity assistance or money soon after. The fraudster can claim to have an emergency need for funds or they can request money for airfare to visit the victim. Among other things, the fraudster can request photos or personal information (e.g. nude pictures, banking information, etc.) that may later be used to blackmail the victim.
Law enforcement agencies report that many romance scams originate Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Philippines. Scammers typically attempt to defraud multiple victims at once, and often communicate with their targets over an extended period of time, weeks, months, or even years, in order to maximize the likelihood that multiple payments will be received from the target.
The usual lies romance scammers tell their victims
The scammers will often say that they live or travel outside the country of the victim. A few common ruses are:
- supposedly working on an oil rig or sea vessel
- are on foreign or even secret assignments for the military or government
- traveling as a doctor with an international organization
- studying abroad
We’ve heard of romance scammers asking money for their targets to:
- ein Flugticket oder andere Reisekosten bezahlen können, um das Betrugsopfer besuchen zu können.
- Pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses to visit the victim.
- Pay for surgery or other medical expenses.
- Paying customs duties to pick up something important
- Pay off gambling debts
- to be able to pay for a visa or other official travel documents
These scammers ask you to pay the money by bank transfer, prepaid cards or gift cards because they want to get cash quickly and can thus remain anonymous. They also know that it is almost impossible to reverse the transactions.
This is how you avoid losing your money to a romance scammer
Here’s the bottom line: never send money or gifts to anyone who you haven’t met personally.
What to do if you suspect a romance scam
If you suspect that you might fall into this grid, contact one of our experts. We will screen this person and research for you at home and abroad whether the suspicion is confirmed.
If you have already suffered financial damage, we will investigate the fraudster´s true identity for you through our excellent worldwide network and initiate efforts to get your money back through the relevant authorities.