Each year, thousands of people are fooled by romance scammers posing as potential soul mates.
These online fraudsters create fake profiles to lure in victims, establish romantic relationships and eventually, extort money. Catfishing or ‘dating scams’ swindle people out of thousands of pounds each year but there are some warning signs to look out for.
In this article, our private investigations team will identify common online romance scams, their tell-tale signs and offer some tips on how to tell if someone is scamming you online.
Romance Fraud on The Rise
In 2018, Action Fraud received 4,555 reports of romance fraud with each victim losing an average of £11,145. The number of romance scams reported has almost tripled since 2015 and the amount of money lost in 2019 was almost six times higher than it was five years ago. Women are more commonly the victim and lost twice as much as men on average.
Although in the past, scams tended to start on a dating website, scammers (and scamming schools) are now using other social media profiles such as Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with potential victims – but many still follow the same pattern. As managing director of Global Investigations, Jack Roberts points out, romance scammers are experts in manipulation and can sound very convincing.
“People should come forward and should not be embarrassed if they have lost money. These scammers are often professionals, working in groups to gain your trust and manipulate victims into sending large amounts of money. Your confidence can prevent this from happening to someone else”.
What Are the Most Common Signs of a Romance Scammer?
To avoid online dating scams, be on the lookout for these traits and tactics when you’re getting to know someone online:
1. They profess their love quickly and promise future plans, without ever seeing you in person.
They’ll send you flattering messages, often have heart wrenching stories about spouses that have passed away and gain your trust quickly, promising future plans and professing love after only a short period of time. In most cases, this process occurs in less than a month after first contact and without ever meeting in person or seeing this person in ‘real-time’ such as video chatting.
2. They ask for lots of details about you but provide very little specifics about themselves
In many cases, these individuals will use many tactics to avoid telling you important information which you may be able to then verify their identity, such as date of birth or address but will ask many questions about you and your circumstances.
3. Romance scammers plan to video call or visit, but they always cancel because of some problem or emergency.
If an online love interest makes plans to video call but constantly cites “bad reception” or a “broken camera”, this can be a red flag. When planning to visit they may change their plans at the last second because of a traumatic event, family or a business drama, which can be cause for concern. Often, their cancellation will be accompanied by a request for a loan.
4. Romance scammers claim to need money for emergencies, surgeries for themselves or loved ones, travel or investments.
Many scammers claim to be a doctor, a service member, an oil rig worker living overseas or a professional on the brink of a big investment. Be suspicious of anyone who asks you for financial assistance, no matter how dire their circumstances seem to be.
If you encounter one of the following storylines when you’re talking to a new love interest on the internet, there’s a good chance they’re scamming you:
- “I need money to support a sick child or relative.”
- “I need loan to pay for my visit to you.”
- “I need some start-up money for a business venture.”
- “I have secured a big contract but need capital. I will transfer you your money and more once my contract is completed”
DO NOT SEND MONEY. Never transfer money, put money on a gift card or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back easily.
How Can Private Investigators Help with Romance Fraud?
Romance scammers often start by using someone else’s identity to create fake profiles. Before sending any money, we can help by cross-checking and verifying important details such as their identity, employment or businesses details.
Our private investigators conduct open source intelligence (OSINT) checks and perform an extensive database and online searches to cross-check the person’s name, photo, location, email address and other details for legitimacy and previous scam warnings.
Before your heart is left broken and your wallet empty, use our online romance fraud service to find out whether or not this person is worthy of your love and hard-earned money.
If you want peace of mind, please call us today on 0800 073 3555 to discuss how we can help.