Don’t Fall in Love with this Common Scam

We live in a digital world where people use the internet for everything from buying their groceries to making romantic connections. Because so many people are online, scammers are finding a way to target people with tactics like the popular romance scams.

Here’s what a typical romance scam looks like

You meet someone online through social media or a dating site and have an instant connection. The person you’re chatting with says all the right things, hangs on every word you say and sounds like the perfect person for you.

However, you should exercise caution when talking to people online or you may end up the victim of a romance scam, an internet crime which, according to the FBI, is on the rise. Romance scammers typically target older widowed or divorced people who, before they know it, have been depleted of their live savings, taken out loans and sent thousands of dollars to someone they believe they’re in a relationship with in hopes to finally meet in person, yet never do.

These criminals are very skilled at what they do and spend countless hours researching how to exploit and manipulate their victims.

If you’re approached by someone on an online dating site or social media, exercise caution with what information you share, and watch for these warning signs that are common with romance scams:

  • They try to rush things. If they call you their boyfriend or girlfriend from the day you start talking or propose after only a few weeks, this is a big red flag—especially if you’ve never met.
  • They want to move off the app or website you met quickly. If your new love interest wants to take the conversation off the website or app you met right away, it’s likely because they’re running several scams at once and want to avoid being reported.
  • They won’t video chat. If the person you’re chatting with won’t video chat, it’s a major red flag they aren’t who they claim to be.
  • They won’t meet in person. If you’ve tried to meet up in person and they’ve canceled several times, they’re likely faking who they are.
  • They’re overseas. If they’re overseas but looking for a partner in your area, this is a pretty big sign they’re a scammer.
  • They want money. If they start making requests for money, gift cards or other forms of payment, you’re being scammed and should cut off contact immediately.

The internet is a great place to connect with new people and make connections, and there are some great people out there. Some prevention can keep you safe when you’re browsing online, like the following tips:

  • Try to meet in public. Remember, anyone can buy a stock photo of a model online and create a fake persona. Meeting in person is one way to confirm the person you’re talking to is who they say they are.
  • Research the person. We have the world at our fingertips—use it to your advantage. You can do a reverse image search on Google to see if their photo has been used elsewhere.
  • Never wire money or send gift cards.  To protect yourself, never wire money or send gift cards to people you’ve met online.