Frankfort, IN – What is a romance scam? A romance scam is committed via the Internet and typically targets lonely, older, widowed or divorced men and women with false promises of love and romance. This crime can be committed from anywhere in the world, making it difficult to catch the scammer. The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be. You can be anywhere in the world and victimize people. The scammers will reach out to a lot of people on various networking and social sites and find somebody who may be a good target. Then they use what the victims have on their profile pages and try to work those relationships and see which ones develop. The scammer’s intention is to establish a relationship as quickly as possible, endear himself or herself to the victim, gain trust, and propose marriage. He or she will make plans to meet in person, but that will never happen. Eventually, they will ask for money.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), romance scams also called confidence fraud result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes. In 2016, almost 15,000 complaints categorized as romance scams were reported to IC3 and the losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million. The FBI reports the number of complaints have tripled over the last five years.
To stay safe online, be careful what you post, because scammers can use that information against you. Always use reputable websites, but also assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online consider the following:
• Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere and ask for an updated photo. One website you can search is www.male-scammers.com.
• Go slow and ask lots of questions. Talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you.
• Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
• Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
• Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
• Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally. Never wire money, put money on a gift card or cash reload card, or send cash to someone that you don’t know. You will see what their true intentions are after that.
If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. Contact your bank right away if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer. And if you are the victim of a romance scam, report your experience to the online dating site, Federal Trade Commission: ftc.gov/complaint, or FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center: ic3.gov.
The best protection is self-protection. Please be aware of the information you’re putting on the internet and always be vigilant. Trust your instinct and if there is the slightest doubt, don’t do it. Please feel free to spread the word and share this information with your friends and family to help protect them also.
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