Online romance scammers are everywhere, and I’m about to tell you exactly where and how to spot the signs so that you can avoid being scammed.
In all fairness, I did warn them.
When they hit me up on dating sites, I paid no mind.
But then they messed with close friends, and broke their hearts.
I don’t think so.
WHAT’S AN ONLINE ROMANCE SCAMMER?
For those of you who’ve never had the misfortune of running into one of these scum, that’s below the scum, that’s below the scum at the bottom of the scum barrel, here’s a little background:
Online romance scamming is a crime.
It’s also classified as romance fraud, and catfishing, and takes place when someone believes they’ve met their soul mate through a dating site or other app, only that it’s not a soul mate. It’s a con artist.
Moreover, the persona being displayed on the other end isn’t even real.
It’s someone else’s likeness that was stolen, and is being utilized by these con artists to lure, entrap, and exploit lonely vulnerable women and men.
They want victims’ money and they have entire repertoire to try to accomplish that end.
HOW DO THEY GAIN GROUND?
The need for connection with another human being is an ancestral thing. It’s built into our DNA.
So, it stands to reason that lonely men and women need and want a connection.
Moreover, we’ve become very busy in our everyday routines. So much so, that we’ve turned to technology to simplify our lives.
This includes our dating lives.
Dating sites like eHarmony, Match.com, OurTime.com, Plenty of Fish (POF), Tinder, etc., have made it easier for us to connect with other people in spite of busy schedules.
Unfortunately, they’ve also opened the door for internet predators to prey on the gullible and vulnerable.
While we may not like to admit it, we’re all gullible and vulnerable when it comes to matters of the heart.
Any one of us can become a victim of a romance scam.
As a matter of fact, I almost did.
But red flags alerted me to the possibility that there was a con-artist on the other end of our conversations.
Certain signs gave him (or her posing as a him) away. I’m very grateful that I knew what they were and how to deal with the situation.
Now, I’m passing that knowledge to you.
HOW IS THE ONLINE ROMANCE SCAM GAME PLAYED?
First, let me state for the record that online romance scammers are CRIMINALS who specialize in manipulation and deception.
According to the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center (IC3), while men fall prey to the romance scammer’s tactics, the victims are typically women.
Our profiles help them identify our vulnerabilities.
Hence, the more information we include on our profiles, the easier it becomes for them to target us.
Take a moment to check out the profile I’ve set up below. What would signal “target” to an online romance scammer?
What changes would you make to the profile to prevent becoming the target of an online romance scammer?
THE ONLINE ROMANCE SCAMMER HAS SINGLED YOU OUT: NOW WHAT?
The deception and manipulation game begins.
Now, it’s time for them to set the bait and go in for the kill.
And don’t for one moment think they’re just on dating sites.
Like I stated earlier in this post, I’ve been targeted on game apps and on SMULE.
FIRST HINTS THAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH AN ONLINE DATING SCAM
The number one item on their agenda is gaining their victims’ affection and trust.
They accomplish this by first gauging the prospective victim’s level of gullibility and emotional neediness through initial contact.
Rather than bombard you with lists, I’ll walk you through the process with a recent example of an interaction that I had with an online scammer.
And it went like this:
“My dear you are beautiful love your smile.”
The first two hints that you’re probably dealing with a scammer are in that sentence.
Do you see them?
If you said grammar and punctuation, you’re correct. That’s one of them.
What’s the second?
The use of the word “dear.” They love to use it. It’s probably even been programmed into their bots.
THE CONVERSATION CONTINUED
“Thank you,” I responded. “I appreciate the compliment.”
To which the scammer responded:
“Is true you beautiful, my dear would like to know you more. Let’s move to WhatsApp so we can talk more.”
Alas, the third hint.
Asking to take the conversation elsewhere, possibly to a platform less easily detectable is typical of these scuzz buckets.
Even though I already knew that I was dealing with a scammer, that hint sealed his fate.
It was time to set up the trap.
And, it went like this:
“You’re quite charming. Where are you from? What do you do for a living?”
Online romance scammers will attempt to:
- 1. Avoid answering the question.
- 2. Give himself a noble cause and set the stage for how he’s going to attempt to exploit you.
The con artist on the other end of the conversation attempted to avoid the question. He turned the conversation back to me, and professed his love:
“Is because you beautiful really like you pretty smile. I want to know you more. I love you already.”
He professed his love for someone he doesn’t even know. If he’s not a scammer, for sure he’s a psycho, so avoid him or her anyway.
Tenacious me responded:
“That’s nice. Where are you from? What do you do for a living?”
And here it is, gents and ladies…the big tah-dah!
“I from California but I not there now. My son is there with the nanny. I widow two years ago. Right now I in Afghanistan on a UN Peacekeeping mission.”
THE FOUNDATION FOR EXPLOITING THE PROSPECTIVE VICTIM HAS NOW BEEN SET
The online romance scammer started laying the foundation for how he/she was planning on getting money out of me.
His sob story just hit the front page of my poor, gullible heart. Boo-hoo.
- 1. Single father
- 2. Recently widowed
- 3. Serving in an overseas location
- 4. Has a child stateside in the care of a nanny
- 5. He was a hero making sacrifices overseas for the sake of world peace
Now, I knew beyond doubt that I was for sure dealing with an online romance scammer.
However, the UN Peacekeeping mission stuff was a new line for me. I absolutely had to know what I was up against.
So, I said:
“A friend is calling. I’ll be right back,” and got online to research UN Peacekeeping mission forces and operations.
While conducting research, I learned that 123 countries were providing the police and troops that make up the UN Peacekeeping force, and the United States wasn’t one of them.
I also learned that there are currently 12 UN Peacekeeping Operations, and Afghanistan isn’t one of them.
IT’S TIME TO CONFRONT THE ONLINE ROMANCE SCAMMER
I returned to the chat that I was having with Prince Charming and said,
“I’m so sorry it took so long. Girl issues.”
Furthermore, I stated:
“Your job is so interesting and noble. I wish I could do something like that.”
“Yes very interesting what do you do for a living?”
Breathe, I told myself.
Hold on, not yet.
1, 2, 3…Now:
“Oh, I kind of can’t talk too much about it. But since you were so open about what you do, I guess I can tell you what I do.”
I paused and took a deep breath.
1, 2, 3…Now:
“I catch cybercriminals. You know, the pieces of crap that have nothing better to do than look for vulnerable men and women to fill with false hopes of love and devotion so they can exploit them.”
Furthermore, I added,
“We call them online romance scammers, or catfishers. Have you ever heard of them? They’re complete low-lives. The scum of the earth.”
THE SCAMMER’S RESPONSE
At this point, the scammers I’ve encountered have responded in two ways, back to back, depending on my response to their attempts to convince me they’re not cybercriminals.
I call the approaches “The Innocent, I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About,” approach, followed by the “Bitch, You Caught Me and Now I’m Going to Have to Close This Account and Start All Over,” approach.
And I’ve been called a bitch by several of these low-lives many times.
Actually, I’m kind of proud of that title.
By the time I complete my research (which includes a Google reverse image search) and nail them, I’ve already screenshot the scammer’s profile and initiated my complaints to the dating or gaming site, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (see link below), and the FBI’s IC3, so I couldn’t care less what they call me.
Life is good when you’re doing the right thing.
Despite the fact that I’ve been on the receiving end of these jerks for a few years now, it’s not their targeting me that prompted the writing of this post.
This post is dedicated to the memory of a very good friend who died of COVID in early spring of 2020.
She was a kind, generous, and so very loving 33 year old.
All she wanted was her own family and a chance at happiness.
THE ANGEL MEETS THE DEVIL
One day she met a stranger on Instagram, and he showered her with compliments, and attention like she never had before.
He made countless promises to go visit her that were never kept, and said everything she needed to hear to make her believe that he loved her no matter her size.
I knew that she was dealing with an online romance scammer from the onset because of his behavior patterns, and I tried as tactfully as I could to warn her.
But she was a big girl with body shame issues, and believed that she was lucky to land someone who looked like the guy in the pic the scammer was using in his fake profile.
What she didn’t know was that lucky would be the man who’d manage to land her.
WE LOVE HARD
As women, we tend to love hard. Sometimes to the point of blindness.
If we would love ourselves with just an inkling of the depth with which we love others, romance scammers would hit brick walls at a much faster pace, and with a level of intensity, that would stop them dead in their tracks.
In closing, I want to challenge each and every one of you to love yourselves so much that no one will ever be able to use or abuse you.
Learn to recognize all of the signs of an online romance scammer.
Moreover, don’t send anyone you meet online money grams, reload cash cards, or give them your bank account and routing numbers.
Don’t give them your money, period!
Please share this article on your social media platforms to help create awareness.
Let’s look out for each other.
Now, go out there and crush it.
And know that you are loved.