Fraudsters Prey on Dating Apps and Online Profiles

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Not all romance scams turn into true-crime documentaries, but each one is serious and could be prevented. With the rise of dating apps, more and more people are being taken advantage of by complete strangers pretending to be in love.

 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams are the most damaging type of consumer fraud, with the average loss at approximately $2,600 – the average loss for people over 70 is $10,000. Stacey Nash, SVP, Bank fraud management and central operations, says all scams, including romance scams, have increased 88% since 2018.

 

“Typically, what happens in a romance scam is the criminal builds a relationship and promises of ‘happily ever after,’” she says. “In many cases, this transpires over months. These criminals are patient. They play on your vulnerability and find a compelling reason for you to send them money. Once you send the money, you never hear from the person again.”

 

From the outside looking in, it seems like the red flags would be obvious. However, Stacey says, the reasons for needing money sound legitimate – these fraudsters are cunning. Here’s her top three tips when it comes to these scams:

 

1. Scrub your online presence. Take a look at the information you have online. Whether it’s a dating profile or Facebook page, be aware of the things criminals could use to get close to you – or even to access your accounts. Everything from siblings’ names, school mascots and your maiden name can be used against you.

 

2. Make sure you really know who you’re dealing with. Be suspicious and on alert until you are actually in a real relationship with the person. They could be gathering information about your habits and patterns to prey on your vulnerability.

 

3. Don’t be embarrassed. If you think you might be the victim of a scam, don’t wait to pick up the phone and contact your bank or law enforcement. Call someone who can tell you if what’s happened is legitimate or not. If it turns out to be a scam, then you’re already in touch with the right people. 

 

Bottom line: Be careful. It might sound like a fairy tale to meet your soulmate online but stay vigilant to protect your information even if it sounds like you’ve found ‘the one.’

Watch the video below from our security team on romance scams.

 

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