Dating and romance scams
What are they?
Romance Scams, sometimes referred to as ‘catfishing’ happens when fraudsters take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often through dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective partners.
They use fictional names, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad.
They play on your emotional triggers, using manipulative and psychologically controlling tactics. And once they have gained your trust, they will ask you for money, gifts or your credit card details. Often pretending they need the money for some sort of personal emergency like health issues or family problems.
Signs of a dating and romance scam
- You meet someone online and they want to move the chat away from the dating app or website as soon as possible to talk with you privately on apps such as WhatsApp or Hangout.
- After just a few chats they profess strong feelings for you.
- Their dating profile is not consistent with what they are telling you.
- They tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your credit card details.
- Their messages become more desperate, persistent or aggressive if you don't agree to their requests.
- Their messages are poorly written and erratic.
How to protect yourself
- Never send money to someone you haven't met in person.
- Do a reverse image search of the person you’re chatting with to help determine if they really are who they say they are. You can use Google or TinEye.
- Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Never send payments to a stranger, especially via electronic funds transfer, international telegraphic transfer, pre-paid card or cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. It’s very rare that this money can ever be recovered.