Getting extra money is always good news especially if someone can promise that you do not need to move an inch to earn it.
Think again, that person may be scamming you.
According to a December 2015 statistics, almost 10,000 people have been scammed amounting to AUD $6,497, 929 lost to scammers. There are several means people get scammed in Australia:
Fake charitiesDating and romance
Buying or selling
Jobs and investments
Attempts to gain your personal information
Threats and extortion
Among all those listed above, the highest reported number of cases came from buying and selling scams but the highest amount extorted came from dating and romance cons reaching more than AUD$ 2 million.
For this article, let us talk about Dating and Romance scams.
There are only 292 reported cases of date and romance scams but the money lost ballooned to AUD$ 2,112, 026. Men and women ages 45-54 are the favorite targets of this type and they usually get their victims through different social media sites and dating sites.
These cons take advantage of people looking for love and relationship by pretending to be a real person looking for the same things. This scam works because it uses the victim’s emotions and obscures good judgment.
Modern technology lets us meet and keep in touch with people from other countries. Your one true love or next love may indeed be in another part of the world or you may just have met the greatest con to break your heart.
To protect yourself from getting conned, protect yourself and always think that strangers you meet online may not always be who they say they are.
1. Love is blind
Social media profile of cons usually use a fake picture of themselves or they would use another person’s identity to be more convincing.
If you meet someone for the first time online, search them on google or TinEye.
Ask if you can have a video chat over skype or other messaging apps. If the person keeps on making excuses, keep your warning signals up.
In addition, if the person’s own description of self does not match the pictures and things you found online then be a little more suspicious.
Moreover, never send intimate and private pictures of yourself that you do not want to end up in public domain. They may be used to blackmail you.
2. What’s in a name?
Shakespeare’s plays were romantic but it should be a clue if your new romance can’t remember your name or keeps on calling by another name.
Con or not, it may be a sign that your new love is chatting with other people aside from you.
3. Love at first chat
Cons are quick at expressing strong emotions and would tell you how much they think the two of you are soul mates or are meant to be.
No matter how they phrase it, unless you are a teenager, you know that love does not happen that quickly.
They will want to make things more “intimate” by contacting you through personal messenger, email or phone. Be wary to give such details to strangers even if they tell you that you mean the world to them.
If it did happen that fast, it is not something you or anyone else should declare without really seeing each other in person and spending time together.
Try to be rational at all times, you should know either from experience or from other people that love is more than a feeling. Some message exchanges should not be enough for you to think that it is real.
In fact, even cons know of this.
4. Broken promises
Cons would drop hints that they plan to visit your country and buying plane tickets to spend time with you.
Of course since they are not who they say they are, they would usually not show up and give different excuses as to why he/she never made it to the airport.
5. Love knows no bounds
Some scammers will try and lure their victims to go someplace exotic or romantic or just give any excuse to make the victim go to a place where it will be harder for Australian police or government to send help immediately.
6. Love is never selfish
Cons will spend money on you and lavish you with gifts. They can make you feel loved and appreciated in a few weeks to months and even years.
Why would they do that if they only want to swindle your money?
Because they want you to trust them enough for you to send money, gifts, personal details like your passwords, online account details, or copies of important personal documents and even your bank details. If you are indeed dealing with a con, he/she can use your identity to con other people as well.
These people may ask you to do one or both things:
Send money. They will ask for your financial help and give reasons like a family medical emergency, mugging or whatever other things that they can come up with.
As soon as you send money, the con will ask you for another and another – for different or even repeating reasons. On the other hand, if you do not send money, they will ask and remind you almost desperately.
Or they may ask you to send money, items like laptops and computer memory storage or even gold to another location and give different reasons and excuses why he/she can’t be the one to send it directly.
Warning, engaging with this types of activities is a criminal offense. You might unknowingly be involved with money laundering.
Further, be wary of sending money to strangers using money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency especially if you are sending large amounts of money (like your entire savings). It is difficult to recover money sent through these channels.
Never agree to meet up with a stranger to make up front payments.
7. ‘til death do us part
If you reached a certain point in your relationship and you decide to meet with your love in person or the first time let your family and friends know who you are meeting, when and where. You can never be too careful when dealing with strangers especially those masquerading as a lover.
Life is better with someone to love but as your mum always say, do not talk to strangers.
As adults in this modern world, we deal with more people who are friends of friends of friends to the nth degree. In one way or another, we will bum with a couple of unfamiliar people.
While not all strangers have malicious intent, we should still be extra careful not to become the next target of scammers by being careful with what things you post online about yourself.
If you think you are being scammed, report the scammer to the website, app, social media or company where the scammer first contacted you or where he/she says works for.
Report to the bank or financial institution immediately if you shared bank or credit card details.
Contact local authorities and report the scam here they might be able to help you or warn others of the said scam.
While not all strangers have malicious intent, we should still be extra careful become the next target of scammers by being careful with what things you post online about yourself.