Photo: Jakub Krechowicz (Shutterstock)
Both Better business office and the FBI warn people about romantic scams that are expected to stay one increased threat until Valentine’s Day. This type of scam has been made worse during the pandemic as cases have increased by 18% over the past year. according to the FBI. Here’s what you need to know.
What are romance scams?
Romantic scams occur when a criminal impersonates a fake online identity in order to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then takes advantage of the relationship to manipulate or steal the victim. The BBB recently received warnings about these two specific romance scams:
- The cryptocurrency scam: After a scammer builds trust in an online dating platform, he quickly tries to move the conversation to an SMS app like WhatsApp or WeChat. Then they “raise a family member who is a successful cryptocurrency investor” and offer an “exclusive” opportunity. Then they persuade the victim to deposit the money on a cryptocurrency trading platform, which of course will never be seen again.
- The money mule fraud: In this case a scammer from another country will rebuild trust and lead the conversation to an SMS app. Then they will make an unusual request in which they will send you money and then ask you to return it to them overseas. This is often accompanied by a story of bad luck about their own bank accounts being “frozen”. However, according to BBB, the funds are likely to be stolen. COVID Relief Check Money and they launder the funds so that they can no longer be found.
G / O Media can receive a commission
Regardless of the type of romance scam, ask questions whenever you feel uncomfortable. If the other person refuses to give you direct answers, or if their tone of voice becomes more accusatory and aggressive, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s a scam. A good rule is to never send money to someone you haven’t met.
The BBB has these additional tips to help prevent romance scams when using dating sites:
- Communicate through the dating app. When a love interest seems to be in a hurry to switch from the dating app to an insecure chat app, that’s a red flag.
- Ask specific questions about details in a profile. A scammer can stumble upon remembering details or fitting a story.
- Research the dating profile. Many scammers steal photos from the internet to use on their profiles. Do a reverse image search through a website like tineye.com or images.google.com to see if the photos on a profile were stolen from another location. Search online for a profile name, email address, or phone number to see what works and what doesn’t. If it’s a fake profile, report what you find to the dating app.
- Be careful with what you post and post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Go slow and ask lots of questions.
- Be careful if the person tries to isolate you from friends and family or soliciting inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to blackmail you.
- Be careful if the person can never meet in personor always has an excuse why they can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, you have good reason to be suspicious.
If you are a victim of fraud, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker.