Monday, May 22, 2023

How to Spot Dating Scams on Social Media by Miss Know It All

Miss Know It All 

I often receive friend requests on social media. Their reasons for reaching out to me are sometimes questionable. By nature, I am suspicious when the individual says, “I attempted to send you a friend request because I find you very interesting and we seem to have so much in common, but I had trouble doing so. Would you message me and accept my friendship?” Then there is the one who pretends to want to be your friend, who will have images of their children but neglect to give any further details about themselves. I guess you are supposed to be a psychic. Many times, they claim to be a divorcee or widower searching for love, romance, or a lifetime partner. In most cases, these people are con artists seeking your cash.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich

Romance scams are more common than you think. Even if you do not use dating apps, a con artist can still target you. The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker is getting reports from individuals conned through social media. There are signs that will aid you in spotting a fake romance before getting in too deep.

How The Fraud Works

You are scrolling through Instagram or Facebook when you get a direct message from a user you do not know. If you reply, the conversation will start innocently enough. At first, the scammer will claim to share your interests and likely have a social media account reflecting that. For example, if you post photos of your pets, they may claim to be a fellow animal lover. If you share pictures of your children, the scammer may pretend to be a fellow single parent.

Photo by Michael Burrows

The scammer will quickly profess his love for you without ever meeting you in person. However, something is off! Dramatic emergency crops up whenever you plan to meet. For example, your love interest suddenly needs financial support for their sick child. Fortunately, you can help by wiring funds or sending prepaid gift cards.

One social media user told about their experience: "He sent me a DM through my Instagram account and instantly started love bombing me. He promised me we would spend our lives together forever, and he would marry me. l planned to move to New York to live with him. Then an emergency struck, and he needed my help to get home from Barbados. He claimed he was a successful businessperson and a millionaire, so he would pay me back when he returned to the States. It never happened. Every time he was supposed to come to see me, another emergency would happen, and he needed more money from me."

Unfortunately, if you send money to the scammer, it will be gone for good. The person you fell in love with does not exist. To make matters worse, con artists will repeat the emergency scenarios until you realize the fraud or run out of money, whichever comes first.

Photo by Pixabay

How to Avoid Dating Scams

Know the signs of romance swindles. Romance swindles often start with someone who seems too perfect and immediately falls in love with you. The individual may be in a hurry to create a future together, but hesitant to meet you in person. The person will probably tell you they are overseas or in the military and often talk about the importance of trust to gain yours, and may share sad stories to pull on your heartstrings before asking you for money. Any of these tactics is a big red flag. If you notice similarities with someone who has messaged you on social media, think twice about your relationship.

Never send money or personal information to someone you have not met. Refrain from giving a stranger your credit card or bank account information. Do not wire money to or share the PIN of a gift card with someone you have never met. An online "friend" might not even really exist!  In addition, never provide your credit score.

Ask many questions. When you meet someone online, ask them specific questions about the details in their profile and pay close attention to their answers. If they lie, keeping their story straight will be challenging.

Do some research. Do a reverse image lookup of a person's profile picture to see if it appears elsewhere on the internet. Scammers often use the same stolen photos to create fake profiles. You can also search their name, email, and phone number to see if you find anything fishy.

You can do a background check by going to TruthFinder

BBB Scam Tracker is a free tool that anyone can use to report suspected fraud. Your reports warn others so they can avoid similar cons.

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