Online romance scams and how to protect yourself from them

18 December 2023 6 minutes Author: D2-R2

Don’t give scammers a chance: Online romance protection

Explore the hidden world of online romance scams: learn scammers’ tactics and effective protection methods. This article offers valuable tips and tricks to help you stay safe when looking for a romantic relationship in the digital world. Using the knowledge gained in this article, you will be able to recognize the insidious strategies of fraudsters and avoid them in time, ensuring the protection of your heart and money. Discover important information about dating scams on the Internet. Learn about the sneaky tactics scammers use in the digital dating world and arm yourself with effective strategies to protect your heart and finances.

The article contains valuable knowledge on recognizing and combating fraud. Online romance, ensuring that your search for love remains safe and sincere. Stay informed and protected from the insidious tricks of love scammers with the help of our article. In this article, you will learn about the methods and tactics scammers use in online romance scams. It highlights key signs of suspicious behavior and provides strategies to protect yourself from such scams, helping you protect not only your personal finances, but also your emotional well-being while searching for relationships online.

We reveal the tactics of online fraudsters

In the Netflix documentary “The Tinder Scammer,” victims exposed notorious con artist Simon Leviev< /span>, who posed as a wealthy diamond magnate on the popular dating app Tinder in order to scam women out of millions of dollars. Leviev is a prime example of a dating scammer, but criminal operations also prey on emotionally vulnerable people to gain their trust and exploit them financially.

The internet has revolutionized dating, and since the pandemic, the number of US adults using apps to find their perfect partners has increased. While these apps offer the convenience of connecting with romantic partners, they also open the door to online scams. Criminals create both deceptive profiles and urgent scenarios to commit fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that nearly 70,000 Americans will fall victim to online romance scams in 2022, with reported losses exceeding $1.3 billion.

Online romance scams take advantage of people through calculated online social engineering and deliberately deceptive communication tactics. In a series of research projects, my colleagues at Georgia State University, the University of Alabama, the University of South Florida, and I have focused on understanding how fraudsters operate, the cues that might prompt changes in their tactics, and what steps people can take to protect themselves against them. , to fall victim to this scam.

How online romance scams work

Online romance scams are not random. These are carefully planned schemes that consist of separate stages. Research has identified five stages:

  • Targeting victims with attractive profiles.

  • Caring for victims through intimacy.

  • Creating crises to extract money.

  • Sometimes manipulation of victims with the help of blackmail.

  • Disclosure of the scam.

In short, fraudsters do not accidentally deceive victims. They plan their actions in advance, patiently following their plays to ensure profitable results. Fraudsters penetrate the victim’s heart to gain access to their money under false pretenses.

In a previous study, my colleague Volkan Topalli and I analyzed victim feedback from the website Our research found that scammers use a variety of social engineering techniques and crisis stories to send urgent requests. Scammers used social norms, guilt, and supposed emergencies to manipulate victims. Scammers also paid close attention to communication patterns and adapted their tactics based on victims’ responses. This interaction significantly affected the overall operation of the scam.

All over the world, online romance scammers use different methods that differ in different cultures to successfully scam their victims. For example, in my recent research, I scrutinized a romance scam in China called “Sha Zhu Pan,” which loosely translates to “pig butchering.” Fraud”. In Sha Zhu Pan, fraudsters prey and recruit victims for financial exploitation through well-structured groups. Several scammers in four groups – hosts, resources, IT and money laundering – use romantic tactics to convince victims to invest in fake programs or use fake gambling websites, convincing them to pay more and more without getting any money back. Hosts interact with victims, resource actors identify and collect information about targets, IT creates fake apps and websites, and money launderers process ill-gotten gains.

Deterrence and rewards

Similar to street robbers, online dating cheaters can be influenced both positively and negatively by a number of situational cues that act as either incentives or deterrents.

Our research has shown that deterrence messages can significantly influence the behavior of fraudsters. Here’s an example of a deterrent message: “I know you’re scamming innocent people. A friend of mine was recently arrested for the same crime and faces five years in prison. You must stop before the same fate befalls you.” Based on live conversations with active online fraudsters, our recent analysis shows that receiving deterrence messages reduces fraudsters’ response rate and use of certain words, and increases the likelihood that they will admit to wrongdoing when seeking further messages .

Our observations show that scammers not only vary their approaches to encourage more responses, such as reaching out to their romantic relationships, asking for identifying information, and asking victims to switch to private chat platforms, but they also use several methods to get victims to overcome their fears. about sending extra money to scammers. For example, scammers subtly convince victims that they have more power in the interaction than they do.

Blocking scammers

There are methods that can help users protect themselves from online scams.

Based on the results of our experiments, my colleagues and I suggest using warning messages in online applications, especially dating applications. For example, using linguistic algorithms to identify keywords such as “money”, “MoneyGram” or “bank” in conversations to alert potential victims of fraud and prevent further interactions by fraudsters.

Additionally, the app may use tools to detect fake profile photos and other types of image fraud. By focusing on detecting fraudsters’ use of fake profile photos, this advanced algorithm has the potential to proactively prevent fraudsters from creating fake profiles and starting conversations in the first place.

The FBI offers tips on how to protect yourself from romance scammers.

How to protect yourself

Online dating app users can take precautions when interacting with strangers. To avoid scammers, users should follow five rules:

  1. Avoid sharing financial information with strangers or sending money to strangers.

  2. Refrain from sending private photos to strangers.

  3. Pay attention to spelling and grammar, as scammers often claim to live in English-speaking countries, when in fact they work in non-Western countries.

  4. Use reverse image and name search.

  5. Confide in family and friends if you start to have doubts.

One last piece of advice for anyone who has fallen victim to an online scam: Don’t blame yourself.

Take a bold step, free yourself from fraud and seek support. Ask your loved ones, trusted third-party organizations and law enforcement agencies for help. This support network is essential to help you restart your life and move forward.

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