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Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites or social media. 

Scammers typically create fake online profiles designed to lure you in. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people such as military personnel, aid workers or professionals working abroad. A private investigator can determine if the person is real or fake.

Dating and romance scammers will express strong emotions for you in a relatively short period of time, and will suggest you move the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging. They often claim to be working or travelling overseas.

Scammers will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information’ and even sending you gifts. 

Once they have gained your trust and your defenses are down, they will ask you (either subtly or directly) for money, gifts or your banking/credit card details. They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature.

​Often the scammer will pretend to need the money for some sort of personal emergency. For example, they may claim to have a severely ill family member who requires immediate medical attention such as an expensive operation, or they may claim financial hardship due to an unfortunate run of bad luck such as a failed business or mugging in the street.  The scammer may also claim they want to travel to visit you, but cannot afford it unless you are able to lend them money to cover flights or other travel expenses.


​Regardless of how you are scammed, you could end up losing a lot of money. The money you send to scammers is impossible to recover and, in addition, you may feel long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone you thought loved you.

​Warning Signs:

  • You meet someone online and after just a few contacts they profess strong feelings for you, and ask to chat with you privately.

  • Their profile on the internet dating website or their Facebook page is not consistent with what they tell you.

  • After gaining your trust – often waiting weeks or months – they tell you an elaborate story and ask for money, gifts or your bank account/credit card details.

  • Their messages are often poorly written, vague and escalate quickly from introduction to love.

  • Fate precludes you from meeting – scammers may claim to be close by but usually are not. They could live across the country or even in a foreign country. Chances are their profile pictures are fake too. When asked to meet in person, scammers tell victims they are traveling, have a long-distance emergency, or work, or are stationed, overseas. Some may claim their money is tied up and ask you for traveling money – never give money to someone you only know from being online.

  • If you don’t send money straight away, their messages and calls become more desperate, persistent or direct. If you do send money, they continue to ask you to send more.

  • Large age differences are another signal that things may be amiss. When a 25-year-old girl claims undying love for a fifty-something man she has never seen, it should give pause to the guy. 

  • Showing of extraordinary wealth is another tip off. When a person you have never met begins telling you and showing you photos of things that only the wealthy possess, bells should start going off. Usually, scammers simply steal photos from websites and other people’s personal pages such as Facebook. 

  • They don’t keep their promises and always have an excuse for why they can't travel to meet you and why they always need more money. 


Protect Yourself:

  • Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.

  • Always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam, particularly if the warning signs listed above appear.

  • Be alert to things like spelling and grammar mistakes, inconsistencies in their stories and others signs that it’s a scam like their camera never working if you want to Skype each other.

  • Be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with prospective partners, especially if you’ve never met them before. Scammers are known to blackmail their targets using compromising material.

  • If you agree to meet a prospective partner in person, tell family and friends where you are going.

  • Be wary of requests for money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.

  • Do not agree to transfer money for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offense.

  • Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.

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