Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Beware Of Valentine’s Day Romance Fraud, Online Daters Told

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love, but it can be a lonely occasion for single folks. While the Internet has helped many people connect with their perfect match, those using dating sites also run the risk of being scammed. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website, 40% of reported scams started on social media and 19% on a website or app, so it’s crucial to stay savvy while dating online.

Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, discusses the phenomenon of Valentine’s Day romance fraud, and how to keep yourself protected. 

Rapid Emotional Connections

Scammers create highly appealing profiles to attract their victims, then quickly establish an emotional connection, sometimes professing love or deep feelings unrealistically soon. This rapid bonding is a red flag, so proceed with caution if someone you met online is bringing out the ‘I love yous’ two or three days into your relationship.

Changing Platforms

After making initial contact, scammers typically suggest moving the conversation to private channels - e.g. WhatsApp, Google Chat, Telegram, or email. This step moves the conversation from more secure and monitored environments such as dating sites to unmonitored private channels, which makes it easier for fraudsters to manipulate their target without getting caught. 

Convincing Backstories

These criminals are adept at creating believable yet false narratives. They often pose as individuals working abroad, which conveniently excuses them from meeting in person. 

By creating credible personas, scammers effectively manipulate peoples’ emotions, making their deceitful requests for money or personal information seem more legitimate. It’s crucial to make sure you’re 100% sure about who someone is before sending them any money. Try looking them up through search engines like Google to see if you can find other evidence they exist, like other social media accounts or a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t get any hits, they may be fake.

Financial Manipulation

After a while, the scammer may create scenarios that require financial assistance (e.g. a health crisis or a business emergency). Whilst the initial requests for money may be small, they often escalate over time. 

According to the FTC’s statistics, 70,000 people reported romance scams in 2022. The financial losses totaled $1.3 billion (averaging $4,400 per victim). The top requested payment methods were cryptocurrency, bank wire transfers or payments, gift cards, and payment apps or services. To avoid falling prey to these schemes, beware of anyone asking you for money before you’ve met in person or had a video call.


Never share private or embarrassing pictures and videos of you with people you meet online. A scammer may threaten to share them unless you send money or more explicit content. If you find yourself in this situation, tell the police and never give in to the blackmailer’s demands.

Trevor says, ‘Always verify the person’s identity and use a video call to see who you’re communicating with. If you’re wise at every turn, Valentine’s Day can become a joy rather than an opportunity for criminals.’

No comments:

Post a Comment