In the digital world we live in today, it is not uncommon for people to meet online via dating apps, social media, or other digital platforms. When you meet someone online and instantly hit it off, the last thing on your mind might be wondering if they are a scammer, but unfortunately, romance scams are happening more and more often. After investment scams, romance scams are the second most profitable types of fraud on social media. More than 33% of people who said they lost money to an online romance scam in 2021 said it began on Facebook or Instagram.
However, there are a number of red flags that you can watch out for to help determine if a love interest is pulling a scam. Review the signs of a scam and tips for avoiding romance scams below and keep them in mind next time you meet someone online. If you notice anything suspicious, stop and ask yourself – “Am I falling in love or falling for a scam?”
Signs of a Romance Scam
If someone is targeting you for a romance scam, they may use the following tactics to lure you into giving them money or bank account information. Don’t fall for it!
- They ask to move the conversation “offline” to a direct form of communication such as texting or emailing very early on in the relationship.
- They begin asking for money by claiming to have an emergency or good excuse for needing money (hospital bill, car breaking down, lost their job, etc).
- They promise to pay you back soon but then they have more excuses and actually end up asking you for more money.
- They say they want to meet in person but always come up with an excuse for why they can’t. If it’s real love, they’ll meet you in person.
Tips for Avoiding Romance Scams
- Be cautious about what information you make public online. Scammers often use this information to better target and manipulate you.
- Research the love interest to see what information they have online.
- Take it slow and ask them lots of questions. Look for inconsistent answers.
- Never send cash, transfer funds from your bank account, wire money, or send prepaid gift cards to individuals you met online.
- Do not share bank account or card information with those you do not know.
- Try a reverse image search on their profile pictures to see if they are associated with another name or social account. If the details don’t match up, that’s a big red flag.
- If a love interest tries connecting with you online and it just feels off or seems suspicious, stop talking to them.
- Make your friends and family aware of romance scams to help them avoid becoming a victim.
If you suspect the individual you were connecting with online was actually a scammer, stop communicating with them immediately. In the event that you may have sent money or bank account information to a scammer, contact your financial institution right away and let them know exactly what happened. You can also report romance scams to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov/imposters.
The bottom line is to never send money to a love interest you haven’t met in person. Have concerns about scams or need to report one? Contact us at https://www.mylsb.com/support/resources/contact-us or call 800-588-7551.