What are they?

In a romance scam, fraudsters create online profiles and pose as romance or companionship seekers to attract individuals looking for a relationship. The relationship is maintained through online communication and progresses with the victim developing an emotional attachment to the fake online persona. As the victim trusts the persona, the fraudster shares a fabricated story that leads to asking for financial assistance. Once the fraudster obtains the victim’s money, they’ll cut off all contact with the victim.

How they work:

  1. The fraudster creates a fake social media or dating website profile and connects with potential victims.
  2. The fraudster develops a relationship with the victim through online communication and avoids any face-to-face interactions. 
  3. Once a strong relationship is developed, the fraudster shares invented tales of hardship that require large amounts of money from the victim. These tales often involve needing life saving surgery or having legal troubles. 
  4. The victim falls for the fake situations and sends money to help.
  5. Once the fraudster receives money, they’ll either keep creating stories for more money or will cut off all contact with the victim.

Signs of a romance scam

  • The individual tends to communicate in a very reassuring manner to get the victim to trust them
  • The individual quickly expresses their feelings but will never show their face
  • The online profile is a newly established account and lacks much of an online presence
  • The individual claims they need financial assistance for emergency situations
  • You may be called by the wrong name as the fraudster is interacting with several victims at the same time

How to protect yourself

  • Send money to individuals you’re unfamiliar with or have never met.
  • Share your personal or financial information with anyone online.

  • When developing a connection with people online, investigate their profiles and online presence to see the legitimacy of the person they claim to be.
  • Complete a Google image search to see if the image appears on the internet under another name.