Many people want to find that special someone. If you are on the hunt for a soulmate, you may be frequenting dating sites to see if you can match with the perfect person. Lots of folks find love online! But problems can pop up fast if you fall into the wrong hands online.
Romance scams are nasty schemes created under the guise of a romantic relationship by fraudsters who want something from you—usually your money. A scammer will meet you online, quickly make you fall in love with passionate words and promises for the future, and then find a way to convince you to send them money or personal information that they can use for their own purposes.
Seniors are often a big target due to their general lack of knowledge about the online world, the fact that they may have money stashed away, and their potential inability to make clear-headed decisions due to cognitive decline. However, romance scams can happen to anyone!
Since Valentine’s Day is coming soon, we’ve laid out some basics about romance scams so you can stay safe and focus on the important things this holiday!
How do internet dating fraudsters employ dating site scams?
Let’s say you meet a wonderful person on a reputable dating site or social media platform. They seem to have it all: good looks, similar likes and dislikes, an exotic (probably far-away) job. You strike up a relationship via personal messages. Things are going splendidly.
Once a fraudster has gained your trust, they may start asking for personal information. They might be fascinated by your private life and find ways to make you share intimate details. They may sweetly ask you to send them photos of yourself. They can use this information to create more fake profiles to lure in other victims.
You eventually want to meet this person in real life. But alas, this person mourns the fact that they aren’t able to meet face-to-face. Here are some common excuses they may use:
- “I’m too sick/my loved one is ill and needs constant care.”
- “My work schedule is too strict for me to come see you.”
- “Yes, let’s meet next month!” But next month—and the month after that—they have reasons why they must postpone your meeting.
The scammer now has a reason to ask you to send them money. If they are “too sick,” they need help covering medical bills. If their work schedule is “too strict,” they need money to cover the unpaid leave they will have to take to visit you. If they must “postpone” your meeting, they might need cash to cover bills, gas, or flight costs next month when they promise to come see you. It’s easy to get sucked into their schemes when you think you know them well and want to help them.
Look out for these common dating scams
Fraudsters are certainly creative in the ways they will try to steal your info and your money. Here are a few of the most common scams you should keep an eye out for:
- Military scams: The scammer says they are deployed in a distant place. They may use military terms and slang to build your trust before asking for money to cover expenses.
- Intimate photos/videos scams: The scammer may promise to send you some private photos if you send them money or personal info first. Alternatively, the scammer might earn your trust enough to have you send them a photo or video, then threaten to blackmail you with those same files.
- Sugar daddy scams: The scammer poses as someone who wants to pay you money in exchange for a relationship. But before they send you money, they will ask you to pay a fee or send personal information.
- Fake websites: Scammers may create fake dating websites that mine your private information as you use them. Or a scammer may send you a link via instant messages, asking you to click the link to view photos of them or send them something. In reality, that link leads to a page filled with malware devised to steal your info or hack your digital devices.
- Inheritance scams: The scammer convinces you to marry them so you can inherit all their money and possessions. But naturally, you must first pay money to help them reach you.
How can IDShield help you stay safe from romance scams this February and beyond?
You can take proactive steps to protect yourself from romance scams. Besides knowing what to look out for, you can become an IDShield Member to receive the best 24/7 identity theft protection! We take your security seriously, providing tools to monitor your online presence and alert you of unusual activity so you can take action the moment it’s detected. If you have already fallen victim to a scam and don’t know it, IDShield can alert you to suspicious activity on your accounts.
If you want to stay safe from romance scams in the future, we offer services to protect you from many different angles:
- Full-service identity restoration
- Cybersecurity protection
- Identity monitoring
- Credit score tracking
- Licensed Private Investigators to work on your case if identity theft does occur
- $3 million Identity Fraud Protection Plan for certain fraud expenses and legal costs as a result of a covered identity fraud event.
Get the identity theft protection you deserve so you can find love with no distractions!
Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to identity theft services through membership-based participation. IDShield is a product of PPLSI. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. The information made available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide professional advice, render an opinion, or provide a recommendation as to a specific matter. The blog post is not a substitute for competent and professional advice. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be third-party paid contributors. All information by authors is accepted in good faith; however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.