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Amidst a Surge in Romance Scam Cases; Here are Red Flags to Watch out for

Have you been texting someone and they suddenly ask you for some money? Well you might just get scammed!
Image Source: Photo by Samson Katt | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Samson Katt | Pexels

In an age when lonely people in search of love are turning to dating apps, scammers are lurking around to siphon off money by manipulating their emotional vulnerability. One such fraudster is a man going by the name of Frank Borg, who duped healthcare professional Laura Kowal into giving him her $1.5 million funds. Laura and Frank met on, and throughout their correspondence, Frank won her trust and convinced her to invest in his online trading company. Soon Frank coerced Laura into supporting his schemes to siphon off money from others, and the fake romance finally ended with Laura drowning in the Mississippi river. Scams that combine financial scams with emotional manipulation are becoming very common on dating apps. More than 64,000 Americans fell for such scams in 2023, but experts think the real figure is significantly higher.

Image Source: Photo by Anete Lusina | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Anete Lusina | Pexels

Scammers fake their romantic interests, fabricate emergencies, and disappear after receiving money through methods like wire transfers or cryptocurrency. In 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 1,249 complaints, with victims losing over $50 million. Despite this, many victims don't report the crime because they are embarrassed or in denial.

Recently the police arrested another 28-year-old man in connection with a love scam. The fraudster acted as an investment banker to trick the victims into thinking they were in a real romantic relationship. Eventually, an unsuspecting victim sent him about $200,000, believing it was an investment in their future together. He is charged with six crimes, including violation of a release order, money laundering and fraud over $5,000.

Image Source: Photo by Vika Glitter | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Vika Glitter | Pexels

Another case is of Nelly Idowu of Provo, Utah, who was found guilty of participating in an online scheme that defrauded victims out of nearly $6 million. Idowu made up fake dating profiles, primarily to trick elderly, widowed, or separated women. In 2017 and 2019, she and her coworkers took home more than $1 million. The court imposed a $6,444,787.16 restitution order on each defendant.

Firstly, verify the person's identity by conducting online searches and checking for duplicate photos. Be wary of individuals rushing into love and pushing the relationship forward hastily.

A significant warning sign is someone asking for money, they make up sad stories or urgent needs to trick you into sending them money. You must be aware of this and not to send money to people you've only met online, no matter how desperate they seem.

Keep an eye out for discrepancies in the information that they share, since a common tactic used by scammers is "persona shifting," in which they pose as different individuals when speaking with various victims. This implies that the information they provide may vary depending on the interaction. There may be inconsistencies in their background, occupation, name, or place of origin, among other things. You can identify red flags of a scam by observing these differences. Identifying such differences helps you to protect yourself against falling victim to fraud.