They pretend to be interested in a romantic relationship
Romance scams commonly take place on online dating websites, but scammers often use social media or email to make contact.
What are the signs?
- Someone you have recently met online professes strong feelings for you, asking to chat privately.
- Their messages are often poorly written and vague.
- Their online profile is not consistent with what they tell you.
- They may also ask you to send intimate pictures or videos of yourself.
- They patiently wait to gain your trust, sometimes waiting up to weeks or months. Then they tell you an elaborate story and ask you for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details.
- If you don’t send money, they may try to blackmail you. If you do send money, they will ask for more.
- They will always have an excuse to justify their webcam is not working, being unable to travel to meet you and why they always need more money.
What can you do?
- Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network and dating sites.
- Always consider the risks. Scammers are present on the most reputable sites.
- Go slow and ask questions.
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Be alert to spelling and grammar mistakes, inconsistencies in their stories and excuses such as their camera never working.
- Don’t share personal pictures, videos or any compromising material that the scammers could later use to blackmail you.
- If you agree to meet in person, tell family and friends where you are going.
- Beware of money requests. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents.
- Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or crypto currencies. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
- Don’t transfer money for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence.
If you are the victim of a romance scam
- Don’t feel embarrassed, this scam happens more often than you can imagine;
- Stop all contact immediately;
- If possible, keep all communication (such as the chat messages) and any evidence that could help identify the fraudster;
- File a complaint with the police;
- Report it to the site where the scammer first approached you. Let them know the scammer’s profile name and any other details that may help them to stop others being scammed;
- If you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.