Romance Scam

  
     

Online dating and social media have made it easier than ever to meet new people and find dates. Unfortunately, though, it has made scammers’ work simpler, too. Con artists create compelling backstories and full-fledged identities, then trick victims into falling for someone who doesn’t even exist.

How the Scam Works:

Most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites, created by stealing photos and text from real accounts or elsewhere. Scammers often claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can’t meet in person. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship with their target, exchanging photos, romantic messages, evening talking on the phone or through a webcam.

But just when the relationship seems to be getting serious, the new sweetheart has a problem: a health issue or family emergency, or wants to plan a visit. No matter the story, the request is the same: they need money. But after the victim sends money, there’s another request, and then another. Or the scammer stops communicating altogether.

 

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How to Spot a Romance Scam:

Be wary of any dating prospect who:

  • Always has an excuse to postpone meeting. Someone really interested in a relationship will want to see you in person. Be wary of someone who is constantly "traveling" or happens to be overseas.
  • Has a photo that doesn't match his/her profile: Lots of people fib in their dating profile, adding an inch of height or subtracting 10 pounds. But be on the lookout for big discrepancies. For example, a scammer may describe their fake persona as blonde but uses a photo of a brunette. 
  • Claims to be from this country but is currently traveling, living or working abroad. Scammers frequently pretend to be temporarily working or stationed overseas.
  • Has a suspicious Facebook profile: Scammers often use the names and photos of real people to create fake Facebook profiles. Their profiles tend to have few friends and be rife with grammatical errors. Also check to see when they joined. Recent pages are another red flag.
  • Asks you for money or credit card information. Scammers often claim an emergency like a sick relative or stolen wallet and will ask you to wire money. The first wire transfer is small but the requests keep coming and growing. 

 

Additional Resources:

More information is available from the U.S. State Department and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

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