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That Not So Romantic Romance Scam

That Not So Romantic Romance Scam

They say, “love is blind.” This is especially true when it comes to looking for love online. Unfortunately, the popularity of online dating has created a new path for scammers to insert themselves into people’s lives with fake profiles and false promises. Romance scams are growing in popularity. In this blog post, we’ll explore the tactics scammers use to target your money and offer practical tips on safeguarding your finances while searching for love online.

What are Romance Scams?

We aren’t just talking about a bad date that ended up costing you $20 in parking, a mediocre meal, and a night you’d rather forget. A romance scam (or online dating scam) is when a fraudster tricks someone into a fake romantic relationship using a fake online identity. With this trust, the scammer then uses the illusion of romance or a close bond to steal from their victim.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received some 56,000 complaints about romance scams in 2021, more than triple the 2017 total, and reported monetary losses from such cons jumped sixfold over the same period, to $547 million.

Romance Red Flags

With more than 57 million people using dating apps in the U.S. alone, it’s no wonder so many people mistake cybercriminals for legitimate romantic partners. Here are some telltale signs your cyber sweetheart is really a frightful fraudster.

  • They can’t meet you in person. Beware of the person who cancels or postpones plans, claims to be stationed abroad, or cites an unforeseen emergency for their lack of availability.
  • They’re too good to be true. If someone is selling you an attractive story but can’t back it up with specifics or photographic proof, it’s a red flag.
  • The relationship moves quickly. Professing love within the first week? Marriage proposals? Requests to move communications off the dating site? Something’s not right.
  • They make repeated mistakes. If conversations don’t flow or make sense, grammar and spelling are off, or their story is full of contradictions, you can bet it’s a scam.
  • They ask for money. Requests for gift cards, prepaid cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency should be especially concerning.

How To Protect Yourself from Romance Scams

Now that you know what to look out for, how can you avoid romance scams? Below are a few tips to help you stay safe and alert on your romantic journey.

Recognizing Banking Red Flags:

Be cautious if your online partner starts sharing elaborate financial stories, especially those involving urgent needs or unexpected emergencies. Romance scammers often manipulate emotions to extract money, claiming issues like medical emergencies, legal troubles, or sudden financial crises.

Never Share Banking Information:

Your bank details are sensitive information that should never be shared with someone you’ve met online. Legitimate individuals seeking a romantic connection will not ask for your account numbers, passwords, or any other financial details.

Avoid Sending Money:

One of the most common tactics scammers will use is requesting money. Whether it’s for a plane ticket, medical bills, or some other urgent matter, avoid sending money to someone you’ve only met online. Legitimate partners will understand and respect your financial boundaries.

Use Secure Payment Methods:

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to send money, use secure and traceable payment methods. Avoid wire transfers or sending cash, as these methods offer little recourse if you become a victim of fraud.

Verify Financial Information:

Before making any financial commitments, independently verify the information provided by your online partner. Check for inconsistencies and cross-reference details with trusted sources. Scammers often provide false information to gain your trust.

Monitor Your Accounts Regularly:

Stay vigilant by regularly monitoring your bank accounts for any suspicious transactions. Set up account alerts to notify you of unusual activity and report any unauthorized transactions to your bank immediately.

Educate Yourself on Common Scams:

Stay informed about the latest online romance scams and the tactics scammers use to exploit victims financially. Awareness is key to recognizing and avoiding potential threats.

How To Report a Romance Scam?

Here are three steps you should take to report a dating scammer:

  1. Contact your bank. Contact the associated company or financial institution that you used immediately to see if they can stop the transaction or assist in recovering the lost funds.
  2. File an official complaint. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  3. Report the scam to the dating app or site. Contact the platform that you use to communicate with the scammer on and share as many details as possible with them so that they can remove their profile and help protect others.  

If you suspect that you have been targeted or fallen victim to a romance scam, please reach out to us immediately at (636) 916-8300. We actively encourage and welcome such calls to swiftly safeguard both you and your accounts. Whenever there’s any doubt or worry, please contact us without hesitation!

Explore further information on various scams through our online Learning Center.

Until next time,

Alltru Credit Union Employee, Chelsea Springli's Signature

Chelsea Springli

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