What happens when the person you’re chatting with isn’t who they say they are? While dating apps and websites can be a great way to meet someone special, they can also expose you to fraudsters and romance scams.
A romance scam occurs when a scammer pretends to be someone that they’re not in order to gain your trust and solicit you for money. Online fraud and cybercrime can happen to anyone at any age! According to the FTC, the median individual loss from a romance scam averaged $2,600.
But how do you know if you’ve been scammed? If you’re looking for love online, we’ve got a few red flags for you to be wary of.
If the person you’re talking to offers various excuses explaining why they can’t show you more photos or video-chat with you, it’s a red flag. It could be a sign that they are hiding their true identity, and may not be who they say they are. Ask to video chat before investing too much time into someone you can’t meet in person.
The profile you read on the site might not match everything they tell you, or you have found other profiles using the same photos with different information. Mismatched information and multiple profiles are a big romance scam red flag. Scammers will often steal photos from another person’s profile and pose as that individual to gain your trust. This is known as catfishing. If you want to check for other profiles, try a reverse Google Image search. Click the camera icon to paste an image URL or upload a photo. This search may pull up profiles using the same photos.
Their messages could be poorly written, inconsistent, and sometimes vague. This warning sign means that you’re actually talking to a person or multiple people who are running several romance scams. To avoid sending mixed messages, fraudsters will keep messaging vague. Some organized schemes will have pre-written playbooks with scripted interactions for fraudsters to pull from.
So, what happens if you find out you’ve been chatting with a scammer?
Stop all contact. This can be an emotionally difficult step in recovering from a romance scam, but it is ultimately necessary to ensure your personal security. Block the scammer on any accounts they could potentially reach you on. If you are experiencing emotional distress, reach out to a friend, family member, or counselor for support in this process.
Report financial losses. You should close any compromised accounts as soon as possible. Freeze your line of credit if necessary. Once you’ve reported to your financial institution, report the incident. Find out where to report at Fightcybercrime.org.
Report the individual to the dating site that you found them on:
- Report to Tinder
- Report to Bumble
- Report to Grindr
- Report to Hinge
- Report to Match.com (800-926-2824)
- Report to OurTime (866-727-8920)
- Report to eHarmony (844-544-3173)
- Report to Facebook Dating
For more romance scam red flags, check out our YouTube video and download the #RedHeartRedFlags infosheet to help you recognize a romance scam while you date online!
Remember, anyone can experience cybercrime and online fraud at any age, so know that you are not alone. CSN is here to help! For regularly updated cybercrime recovery information, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.