If you are looking for the love of your life, be sure to hold on to your wallet because romance fraud is a serious problem and on the rise.
What is Romance Fraud?
Strictly speaking, romance fraud might take several forms. For instance, there are those who represent themselves as something they are not in order to pursue a romance with someone who has specific requirements in what type of person they are looking for, relationship wise. If a member of an online dating site stated in their preferences that they would only be interested in dating someone of the Catholic faith and a Buddhist pretended to be Catholic in order to try and establish a romantic relationship—this would be romance fraud. The same holds true for those who purport to be wealthy or have prestigious careers when neither is true.
However, in this article we are going to take a look at romance fraud as it refers to those who deliberately and intentionally fleece someone out of money and/or other worldly goods while allegedly building a romantic relationship.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center in April of 2011, romance scams are an ever growing problem, undoubtedly increasing due to the internet and the ease of finding victims. RomanceScams.org has a wealth of very valuable info about romance fraud, as well as some extremely disquieting facts and figures. Here is a sampling of some data that might give you food for thought:
• As of a January 23, 2011 update, 1165 people had reported losses of $14,147,055.30 due to romance fraud.
• 5,545 scammers were reported. Source: Romance Scams website
How Does Romance Fraud Work?
As mentioned above, there are a variety of potential romance scams. The ones involving parting you from your money and possibly other valuables such as jewelry, property, stocks, bonds and more might work along these lines:
The scammer begins by asking you what you want out of life and in particular, what you are looking for in a romantic relationship. He or she will encourage you to pour your heart out and reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings. The next step is to cleverly weave you a beautiful picture of how your life together would fulfill all of your dreams. Once your heart and confidence have been won, the scammer moves on to the next step, which involves a ruse to get you to hand over financial assistance.
For instance, let’s say that things have progressed to the point where you have set up a rendezvous with the scammer; who you by now believe to be the best thing that has ever happened to you. At this point, the scammer may claim that they are staying in a hotel and have had their billfold/purse stolen and consequently cannot pay their bill to get their luggage and meet you as arranged. They need X amount of dollars and will of course pay you back as soon as they get things straightened out and new credit cards issued, yada yada yada.
This is just one scenario. The list of possible tricks for bilking you out of your money is long and often very credible, which is why so many men and women fall prey to romance fraud.
How to Protect Yourself From Romance Fraud
What can you do to protect yourself from scammers adept at romance fraud?
Here are some helpful tips and warnings to help you evade romance tricksters:
If someone asks for money for any reason—cut things off then and there! Cease all contact with them, block their email address and phone number and notify the dating site.
- Be wary of someone whose virtual sweet nothings sound like a script. If someone sounds as though they are using well rehearsed phrases to court you online—they probably are. Scammers who practice romance fraud are in it to make a profit and chances are slim you’re their first victim, so they have probably used the same lines on any number of people before you.
- Be skeptical about someone who sounds too good to be true. In a fairy tale world, people who seem too perfect and too good to be true would be the real McCoy. But in the world of romance fraud, if they sound too good to be true—back away fast!
- Romance fraud is a big problem, but if you arm yourself with the knowledge to help evade these con artists who are interested in your bank balance instead of your heart, online dating can be a wonderful experience!