Red Flags of a Romance Scam

posted Angela Evans 2/24/2021 in Cybersecurity

Romance Scams

Millions of people go online in search of romance each year through online dating apps and social media sites.  Online romance is a profitable business for legitimate entrepreneurs, but also for scammers.  In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received reports of financial losses from romance scams that reached a record $304 million.  That’s a 50% increase from the previous year!

Romance scams work because the scammers are good at blending in with all the other good people looking for love.  They create fake profiles on online dating apps or social media sites and make connections with their targets to build trust over time.  Once they’ve established a relationship, they make up a story that puts them in a desperate financial situation. 

Often, the stories made up by scammers tug at heartstrings, like a serious ailment requiring an expensive treatment or caring for a sick or dying relative.  Another tactic is to say they want to meet in person but can’t because they don’t have the money to travel. Scammers may boldly ask for money or claim such desperate financial despair that the unknowing victim offers to help.  They may also create a sense of urgency with a critical deadline for needing money. DON’T FALL FOR IT! 

Mike Bailey, Lincoln Savings Bank’s Physical Security Officer with 17 years of experience in law enforcement, was targeted for a social media romance scam on February 18, 2021.  Here is a description of how he was targeted:

I was contacted via Facebook Messenger by a person attempting to run a scam. I asked her why she reached out to me and she said she found me because I liked LSB’s Facebook page, a page she also liked. She is apparently reaching out to other people who like the same pages via Messenger to engage with them, claiming to be a single female from California who has a large inheritance coming. Basically, she wanted account numbers and other information, sending racy photos and calling me “baby”.  

Mike knew immediately it was a scam thanks to many years of experience in law enforcement dealing with fraudulent behavior and scams.  The scammer’s profile was blocked from LSB’s Facebook pages, but there is no way to know what identity they will create next. 

Protect yourself!

  • Verify the love interest is real.  If you haven’t met an online love interest in person, NEVER send money or gift cards. 
  • Help create awareness. If you have a friend or loved one who looks for romance online, talk to them about the risks of romance scams. 
  • Know the signs of a scam.  Watch this video from the FTC to learn the signs. 
  • Don’t be embarrassed if you’re a victim.  Being a victim of a romance scam can be embarrassing and heartbreaking but losing money to a scam adds to the devastation.
  • Report every scam.  Contact your bank immediately if you think you sent money to a scammer and report it to the FTC.

If you’re prepared to spot a scam, you won’t fall victim.  Don’t let bad romance ruin your chance for real love.

Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC

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