Online Dating and Virtual Relationships Can Lead to Romance Scams
They say “love is blind.” This is especially true when it comes to looking for love online. Unfortunately, the popularity of online dating has created a new avenue for scammers to embed themselves into people’s daily lives with fake profiles and phony promises. Romance scams are growing in popularity, so if you are looking to meet someone online make sure you are not blinded by love and will notice if something seems fishy.
How Romance Scams Work
Scammers create fake profiles that are aimed at gaining your affection and trust. They may have an unusually high number of similar interests, and once you engage with them, they will contact you frequently with intense flattery to establish a quick relationship. The only caveat is that they can’t meet in person. They will provide excuses such as serving in the military or other remote commitments.
After spending weeks – or months – building a connection with you, they will ask for money, typically through an electronic payment method that is fast and cannot be reversed. Common reasons include travel expenses to finally come see you, medical emergencies, or debt relief to start a new life together. They will make promises about the future, but if you refuse, they'll threaten your relationship and stir up guilt until you finally agree. This may take place during times when many people feel lonely, such as Valentine’s Day or during the holidays. After you send the requested money, the scammer will disappear.
What You Can Do If a Scammer Targets You
If you suspect an online romance seems suspicious, make sure you slow down and ask questions. Try doing a Google image search with their photos to make sure they are not random pictures the scammer found online. If you believe you may be interacting with a scammer, report the user to the platform where you first made contact, and do not send them any money.
To learn more about scams and ways to protect yourself, visit zellepay.com/pay-it-safe.
Peoples State Bank is a community bank headquartered in Wausau, Wisconsin, serving north, central, and southeast Wisconsin from ten full-service banking locations in Marathon, Oneida, Vilas, Waukesha, and Milwaukee Counties, as well as a commercial loan production office in Stevens Point, WI.