Romance scams are costing consumers $1 Billion + per year
Romance scammers will go to any lengths to defraud unsuspecting people. Here’s the warning signs of a romance scam.
Within the past two decades, the dating world has undergone a complete digital transformation with many people moving online to find love. But unfortunately, the rise of dating apps and social media profiles to find a mate have led to romance scammers preying on unsuspecting, and potentially vulnerable folks.
Romance Scams are on the Rise
In the US in 2021, reported romance scams cost consumers a whopping $1 Billion according to the FBI and in Canada, they cost consumers almost $69 million according to the CAFC – and it’s important to note that these numbers go largely underreported.
Did you know?
In 2021, over 320 + million people used dating apps globally, compared to 240 million in 2016.
With more people socializing online since the global COVID-19 pandemic, romance scammers have increased their tactics to take advantage of this trend. Here’s some of warning signs to help you, a friend or a family member determine if a potential online mate might be a romance scammer:
1. They generally won’t meet you in person
- You might find yourself showing up at places to meet them and there’s always a last minute excuse as to why they can’t be there.
- But, beware, as some culprits have made careers out of scamming people in person to financial ruin, notably the Tinder Swindler, who was recently popularized in the Netflix documentary. If you do end up meeting them in person and it sounds too good to be true, use caution when moving forward in the relationship.
2. They won’t do a video chat or if they do, their video is inconsistent
- With the rise of deep fakes, romance scammers are getting more sophisticated with today’s technologies to keep their scams alive. If you suspect the person is using deep fake technology, then ask them to turn their head to the side, as this will throw the technology off and reveal that it’s fake.
3. The potential scammer starts to isolate you from your friends and family
- This is a common tactic used in romance scams so that the cybercriminal can better take advantage of you to get what they want.
4. They start to ask for money
- At first, the asks might start out very small around $50 or $100 to pay for a bill, but once the scammer has succeeded, they will continue to ask for more and in larger increments. Over time, this could cost thousands of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars leading to financial ruin. In 2021, the average reported romance scam cost was USD $41K according to the FBI.
- And when they ask for money, it’s always a dramatic or pressing situation that requires immediate payment. The romance scammer will also be very specific about how you pay them, potentially in gift cards or untraceable methods like cryptocurrency.
5. The potential romance scanner asks for sensitive personal information and inappropriate photos of you
- Use caution, especially if you have not met them in person. While this could be a normal part of courting someone in today’s technology era, these could be used to extort or blackmail you in the future.
At BOXX Insurance, our purpose is to make the world a digitally safer place. Our Cyberboxx Home™ product covers fraud, identify theft and cyberbullying which can be associated with a romance scam.
What To Do if You Suspect You’re Involved in a Romance Scam
If these romance scam warning signs are prevalent and you suspect that you or a loved one is dating could be a romance scammer, here’s some tactics to help you validate or dismiss your assumptions:
1. Do a reverse image search of the potential romance scammer using a tool like Tineye
- This will indicate if the image is being re-used on the internet at large. It will also pull up other similar scammer profiles or warnings from the people who might have had their images used for other types of cybercrime or romance scams.
- If you are not the best with technology, talk to a friend or family member that you can trust. They will most likely help you.
2. Search online for traits related to the romantic situation plus the word “scammer”
- There are some common scams out there, particularly people creating fake stories (for example, about being a former military vet that has been widowed). Scammers like to leverage stories with emotional hooks and use the same tactics to prey on their victims, which are widely accessible online.
3. Protect yourself if you have revealed sensitive information
- Immediately change any sensitive online passwords like your email, banking, government, social and investments accounts. Contact potential service providers to let them know that you suspect fraudulent activity under your name, and that there should be additional safeguards in place to protect any access to your accounts.
4. If you have cyber insurance coverage, contact them.
- At BOXX Insurance, we provide additional risk prevention services like the Hackbusters™ incident response team who can help provide advice to protect you against cyber bullying and extortion.
If you have been the victim of a romance scam, here’s what we recommend:
1. Stop all communications with the person immediately.
2. Report them to local crime officials:
- Unfortunately, most romance scams go underreported due to the perceived social shame and the victimization of those impacted, but reporting these culprits is the best thing that you can do, as it might prevent future scams.
- In the US, you can report it to: ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- In Canada, it should be reported to: Cyber.gc.ca
- In Europe, report it to: Europol
3. Report the account profile to the social site or app where you met them
- Their profile will then be flagged and it might be taken down to protect others.
Don’t Become the Victim of a Romance Scam with Cyberboxx Home
Our all-in-one cyber insurance home coverage and Hackbusters incident response team protects you and your family members against cyberbullying, identify theft and fraud.
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