Beware of romance scams ...
A few nights ago, I flopped down on my couch and indulged in my smartphone's ability to deliver information. I began by checking the usual: messages, social media, etc., and then I went on to see what was happening in other realms, more specifically automotive, news, and banking.
That's when I came across an Alpine Bank blog post warning of the dangers of romance scams, and it was both troubling and relieving at the same time. It was relieving to see that words have power – that what you write to someone can actually have meaning – but troubling to see that power used nefariously. So, I feel compelled to pass along the same warning about these 'romance scams'.
In the original blog post, the author writes of a woman – for the sake of this article, let's just call her Laura – who was looking for love on a virtual dating site. There, she met who she thought was a man who would make her happy. They fell 'in love' and he started to ask for money. They had never met in person – scammers usually claim they live outside of the country, often times due to military service – when he began asking for money. In the blog, they mention that asks generally start small and gradually become larger and larger:
"It may start small with a request for $50 for a bus ticket, and then expand into a $40,000 loan request to cover a medical emergency, and it goes on from there."
Then, they vanish. In the case of Laura, it wasn't until they hit the six-month mark and $100,000 later that the criminal had broken all contact with her.
The blog states that these type of people typically pray on the emotionally vulnerable (e.g., the recently widowed, divorced, or those who express feelings of loneliness on social media). Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and loved ones from these scammers, and they are as follows.
1. Always ask a lot of questions and don't rush into anything. Try to detect any inconsistencies.
2. Be wary if the person wants to communicate off the dating site too quickly.
3. If a person professes their love for you too early, that could also be a sign.
4. Beware of people who claim to work overseas.
5. Always meet the person in person before 'helping' them out.
6. Crosscheck their photos, name, etc. to see if it appears anywhere else.
Should you think you've encountered a scammer, it's recommended that you contact the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
What do you think? Have any of you seen or heard about any scams? If so, let us know in the comments below!