What You Need to Know About Romance Scams

Valentines Day is right around the corner, which is a time to break out the chocolates and flowers to celebrate romantic love. But did you know fraudsters will pose as a romantic interest to trick you into giving them money? This is called a romance scam, and here is what you need to know.

What is a Romance Scam?

A Romance scam happens when a scammer creates a fake identity online and pretends to be a love interest, with the goal of gaining your trust and affection. The scammer will work to cultivate what feels like a genuine relationship; they will take an interest in your hobbies, your family, maintain frequent communications with you, and may even drop the “L” word. Scammers will take their time developing a relationship, as it’s not unusual for them to spend 6+ months earning your trust and confidence.  However, as soon as you believe them to be trustworthy, they then attempt to manipulate you into giving them money or personally identifying information.

While you may think that this will never happen to you, romance scammers are typically very experienced, and know what to say and do to gain your trust. Here are some tactics to look out for:

  • One of the most common tactics that romance scammers use is lying about where they are located. They’ll say they are living outside the U.S. or are in the military, so they are unable to meet in person and can only communicate via text message or online, primarily using email or social media. If the person claims to be located overseas or in the military, or otherwise cannot meet up in person, this is a red flag, and is a good reason to pump the brakes and re-evaluate.
  • Another tactic that romance scammers will use is saying that they need money for an emergency. Examples could be a medical expense, plane ticket, gambling debts other emergency situations. Scammers will make these scenarios feel urgent and life-threatening.
  • A red flag to look out for is how they want you to send them money. Scammers will want you send them money by wire, reloading a card, or sending them a gift card. If a romantic interest is asking you to send them money through one of these mediums, it is most likely a scam.

How to Avoid a Romance Scam

If you’re worried about becoming a victim of a romance scam, there are steps you can take to ensure that your finances and information are kept safe.

  • Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online.
  • Don’t post everything online. Scammers will use any information you post on social and dating websites to target you in hopes of manipulating you. This includes posting your answers to ‘about me’ types of quizzes and questions on social media.
  • If someone shows interest, make sure to research them. Become an internet sleuth! Perform a reverse Google search on their profile picture and do a google search on the name they are using.
  • Take it slow, and make sure to ask questions! Finding a romantic partner should not be rushed.

Report the Romance Scammer

If you suspect that you or someone you know is involved in a romance scam, take steps to report the scammer and protect yourself.

If you wired money to the scammer, make sure to get in contact with your bank and let them know what happened, so they can be on the lookout for any suspicious activity with your account. If you paid the scammer with a gift card, get in contact with the company you bought the gift card from and ask if they are able to refund the money.

Most importantly, make sure to report the scam to the FTC at www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov  Not only will this help the FTC catch the scammer, but it will help others in your community be on the lookout.

Your Best Interest in Mind

We know how stressful it can be to make sure your information is protected, and we want all of our clients to be aware of how scammers operate. Are you ready to learn more about how Blackhawk Bank can help you? Contact us today!

 

Author: 

Jessica Hendon

VP Physical & Information Security
View Bio