How to recognize romance scams
Online dating and social media sites present excellent opportunities for romance scammer tactics. What’s more, a large number of these cases are never reported due to embarrassment. Romance scams are one of the most common scams we encounter at Central Bank, and we’ve seen customers lose thousands of dollars before realizing it was a scam. However, there are some very typical signs of a romance scammer.
The subject you’re communicating with claims to be working overseas as a U.S. soldier, a military contractor, an off-shore oil rig worker or a foreign construction site worker. After they gain your trust, they advise they need to return to the United States to deal with an injured or ill family member, or to pay for repairs at their job sites, or they profess their desire to return to the United States to meet you in person. In each of these scenarios, they need you to send them or their friend money to pay for their trip home. After receiving that money, they will follow up with a request for more money because of some emergency. They often claim to have been in a car wreck on the way to the airport and now need additional funds to pay medical expenses.
The subject you’re communicating with asks if they can have a friend, co-worker, family member or business partner send you money. This is an attempt to utilize you as a “money mule.” Any funds you receive will be counterfeit checks or funds from another scam victim. Moving this money for them could place you in violation of state or federal laws.
How to avoid being romanced-scammed
Being the victim of a romance scam is easier than you think. These scammers are pros and know what to say and when to say it. Still, there are some simple tips you can remember to keep yourself and your money safe.
Watch what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
Know the questions to ask a romance scammer. Can you verify you’re who you say you are? Do you have a work phone number? What’s your address? What’s your friend’s address? If they hesitate to answer your questions, they could be a scammer.
Be wary if the individual asks you to leave a dating service.Communicating too directly and in private will only make you more vulnerable to being scammed.
Beware if the individual never meets you in person. Instead, they always come up with an excuse as to why they can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
Never send money to anyone you haven’t met in person.