The following chapters offer a small introduction to dating & romance scams and how these work. Please read through this section carefully and see if anything applies to your situation.
Romance scams start out from a dating website, cold email, a social media message, or even a phone call. This initial stage is commonly known as “catfishing”, as the communicating party will usually portray a persona that they are not (e.g. a man pretending to be a woman, etc.). The persona will usually have some sort of background information available on the web, but this will usually be incomplete, severely limited, or contradictory (🚩first red flag!).
As soon as communication starts, the scammers will attempt to create an emotional connection with the person they are trying to scam. This process can be extended to a long period of time, through calls, gifts, or even (attempted) efforts to get in touch with you in real life.
After a connection (and trust) is established, the scammer(s) will eventually start requesting money in the form of gifts, bank transfers, credit card payments, or even Bitcoin payments. The latest option is growing in popularity since cryptocurrency transactions are hard to trace and impossible to reverse.
Aside from requesting money from you directly, scammers may also attempt to use you for money laundering purposes. For example, you may be asked to receive a significant amount of money in your bank account, only to later send it to another bank account. The same can happen with cryptocurrencies.
Dating & romance scams are very dangerous since you may also be subjected to blackmail (due to sharing sensitive information, like intimate pictures).
Here are a few tips to protect yourself:
Avoid sending money or cryptocurrency to anyone you haven’t met in real life.
Do not send sensitive personal information to people online.
Do a Google search for the profile photo(s) of the person you are talking with. Very often you will discover that the image actually depicts a different person.
Do not agree to any type of digital transactions for third parties.
Always let your loved ones know where you are going and who you are planning to meet.
If you believe that you may be the victim of a scam, or simply aren't sure, please contact our support team, we're here for you.