Spotting A Romance Scam

February is here and love is in the air.

In a world more digitally connected than ever, fraudsters are creating romance scams using popular dating apps and social media. These scams can be hard to spot, especially since they touch core emotions. Here are our top tips to help spot a romance scam.

The scam usually goes like this.

In a romance scam, a fraudster creates a fake online profile and attempts to connect on dating apps and websites, and through social media platforms. After making a connection, the scammer will work to build up the relationship with the victim, calling and texting often. Once they have gained the victim’s trust, the fraudster will share a sad story asking the victim for money.

The fraudster may explain that they cannot meet in person because they live or are traveling outside the United States. They’ll claim to be a doctor working for an international organization, a blue-collar worker in the middle of a construction project or part of the military and currently serving overseas. They may ask for money to help cover travel expenses, pay for medical treatment, cover customs fees at the airport or to pay for a visa or other official travel documents.

A sense of urgency is commonly attached to the request and the fraudster will ask for payment via wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Once they’ve received the funds, they’ll disappear. Alternatively, they will ask their “date” to share personal financial information and then proceed to empty the victim’s accounts.

If you hope to meet someone online, look out for these red flags:

  • Profile is too good to be true. If a profile has unrealistic credentials, including a magazine-worthy photo, you’re likely looking at a scam.
  • You’re feeling rushed into the relationship. If the contact comes on too strong, too fast, it may be a scam.
  • This person is asking you for money. Don’t believe a money-starved story of someone you just met online, especially if they ask you to help them.

Follow these basic online safety rules to avoid falling for internet scams.

  • Never share personal details online with anyone whose identity you cannot verify. Personal information includes all financial information, credit or debit card details and any details commonly used to unlock a password on any of your accounts.
  • Only visit secure sites and keep the settings on your social media pages private. Never engage in conversation with a stranger who reaches out to you on a platform you just started using or with anyone who sends personal texts or emails to you without any prior communication.
  • It’s equally important never to send money to anyone online.

Take these steps if suspect a romance scam in your life.

If you think you are the target of a romance scam, immediately stop all communication with the fraudster. Block their number and flag their emails as spam.

You may want to save screenshots of your text messages, emails and other communications to help you file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

If you think your account or personal information might be compromised by a romance scam, please do not hesitate to call us at 315.782.0155. You can also connect with us via Video Banking or visit any relationship center.