The scammer sets up a fake dating profile and will connect with you on a dating website, dating app or social media. The scammer will ask to continue chatting to you off the dating website or app, typically on a free but encrypted chat site such as WhatsApp, Google Hangouts or WeChat. They may say they want to do this as these chat sites are ‘more private’. Scammers will make an effort to build your trust and will often do things like express strong emotions for you in a short period of time and share lots of ‘personal’ things with you. Once they have gained your trust the scammer will tell you about an investment opportunity. Often, they say they have invested a small amount of and made a lot of money very quickly. They will encourage you to initially transfer a small amount of your own money to show how easy the investment is. You may see a quick return. The scammer then encourages you to invest larger amounts. The scammer will tell you to top up your accounts to increase your profits. If or when you run out of money to transfer or want to withdraw all your funds, the scammer will cease all communication. You will then be unable to obtain your investments from the platform or be told the investment has gone wrong.
The scammer’s intention is to establish a relationship as quickly as possible, endear himself to the victim, and gain trust. Scammers may propose marriage and make plans to meet in person, but that will never happen. Eventually, they will ask for money.
Scam artists often say they are in the building and construction industry and are engaged in projects outside the U.S. That makes it easier to avoid meeting in person—and more plausible when they ask for money for a medical emergency or unexpected legal fee.
If someone you meet online needs your bank account information to deposit money, they are most likely using your account to carry out other theft and fraud schemes.
Tips for Avoiding Romance Scams:
1. Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
2. Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
3. Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
4. Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.