You may think this could never happen to you but young and old alike have been victims of a “sweetheart scammer”–a criminal who preys on lonely hearts to steal their personal information and swindle them financially.
A romance scam typically works like this: The criminal will set up an account on a dating site with fake information and photos, which of course are of someone who looks inviting, trusting, and attractive. They reach out to several candidates and try to start an online relationship.
These complications may be family-related (a close family member is very sick and needs financial assistance) or travel-related (a hotel manager has seized my passport, or immigration officials require bribes).
Once the target reciprocates and trust has been established, the scam usually escalates to the thief’s unveiling of a problem involving money.
Typical scenarios include the request for funds to be able to travel to meet you in-person or to help the thieve’s sick relative.
This data is likely under-reported due to victims' embarrassment and the psychological impact of the crimes"My dad he's from us and my mum is from Spain. All I need now…$500 US dollars." In this case, the male suitor began to ask probing questions about his online companion's access to credit, her exact location, and her family resources.
After several unconvincing answers (the scammer claims her country is West Africa and that her entire family perished recently in a plane crash), the suitor terminates the relationship, avoiding fraud.
Many people have been finding love online, but others have not been so fortunate.
In fact, romance scams actually cost Americans more money than any other kind of internet fraud.
Unfortunately, seniors are the primary targets for romance scams, since they often spend more time alone as they age.
You can protect yourself from these fraudsters by doing the following: Even though Valentine’s season is one of the key times to be on high alert for possible sweetheart scams, it’s important to realize this is a year-round issue.
“While sweetheart scammers definitely operate all year long, they are particularly noticeable at a time when everyone wants to celebrate romance.
These scams are a double whammy for the victim because they are affected both fiscally and emotionally.
Many psychological effects, including self-deception, optimism bias, and the valence effect, cause people to fall for these scams.