The world of dating has changed over recent years, especially during the current pandemic. Due to this, most people, have turned to online dating or social networking sites to meet people. However, instead of finding love, many have been conned out of their hard-earned money by scammers.
Here at CEL Solicitors we are experts in fraud recovery and aim to help those who have suffered financial loss. We understand that this type of scam is among the most heartbreaking. We also know that many people may feel ashamed and embarrassed that this has happened to them, but we are here to help.
If you think you have fallen victim to a romance scam or have a suspicion that the person you are speaking to isn’t genuine, then Lucy, in our dedicated fraud team, has compiled her top tips for spotting romance scams.
Common jobs or situations scammers use to gain people’s affection and trust
This list is by no means exhaustive, but often we see people being tricked by scammers who fall into one or more of the following categories.
Are they living and / or working abroad?
Scammers will typically say they’re based overseas to explain why they can’t meet in person.
Do they say that they work in the military, as a doctor or on an oilrig?
These are common occupations that scammers often use to gain people’s attention / trust?
Is it a celebrity, messaging from a ‘private’ social networking account?
Scammers often use the appeal of high-profile individuals to prey on their victims.
Have they got an investment opportunity to help you earn money?
Beware, this is often a trick to get you to send them money
Naturally, there will be people who fall into these categories, but you should always trust your instincts if something or someone seems too good to be true. Through her work in CEL Solicitors fraud and scam recovery team, Lucy has first-hand experience of the common questions people ask themselves when they’re worried that they, or a loved one, is the victim of a romance scam as well her tips on what to do.
Romance Scam Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’ve met someone online who only has one photo, how do I know if they are genuine?
A: Often scammers only have one or two images of themselves that they have taken from the internet. To see if they are copied, you can perform a reverse image search to see if their pictures are associated with any other profiles. You can also request video communication, which is very common nowadays and simple to arrange. Ask them for a video chat and if they refuse, it might be that they are not who they say they are.
Q: I think I am talking to a celebrity; how do I know it’s really them?
A: Often scammers may say that they are a celebrity and are messaging you off their ‘private’ social networking account. If you are unsure if they are genuine, research the story they have given you to see if anyone else has similar experiences as often these scammers target more than one person. See if there are any support groups / or groups set up on social networking of people discussing this particular ‘private account’. Finally, look out for mistakes in their story; do they say they have a work commitment but, in the news, they’re are spotted somewhere else?
Q: I’ve been chatting to an investor who said they can make me a lot of money. Is this legitimate?
A: Often scammers will gain your trust and that tell you, after a few weeks of communicating, that they work for an investment company and they are a professional trader. Ask yourself, does this seem too good to be true? They may ask you to download AnyDesk, to access your computer, and create an account for you on a cryptocurrency website that you can send funds too. Research the company on the FCA website to see if they are authorised. If not, they are not, we urge you to stop communication with the scammer immediately. If they are authorised, still check the credentials of the ‘broker’. In some cases, investments have been made on legitimate platforms, but the scammer has ownership of the account and refuses access.
Q: They have promised to meet me in person. Does this mean I can trust them?
A: Often scammers will promise to meet in person but then come up with an excuse as to why they can’t meet. Excuses can include:
- They are in the military and the other troupes have not be deployed
- They or a family member is ill and needs urgent medical care
- They claim to be a celebrity and have a work commitment
- They claim that have court and/or court fees to pay for
- They claim their flight was cancelled
If they keep giving you excuses as to why they cannot meet you, they may not be who they said they are.
Q: They need money. Should I help them?
A: Often scammers will request money off you, for various reasons, once they have gained your trust. Examples can include, but are not limited, to:
- Payment for medical bills for them or a family member, often a child
- Emergency funds to get them out of life-threatening situation
- Court fees or administrative fees often linked to visas / travel documentation
- Cash for transport so that they can come and see you
- Investment to help you make money
- Help to get them out of financial difficulty
- Fees or taxes for postal / shipping for items they’re sending / importing
Q: I feel like we have a strong connection. Is that real?
A: Often scammers appear to be completely devoted to your relationship. Ask yourself, are they asking you for money or putting you under pressure to take out loans to help them? Are they saying they love you, that they are in desperate need of your help and that you are the only one they can trust? Unfortunately, scammers are often successful in tricking victims into sending money because they deliberately play on people’s emotions so never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
Contacting CEL Solicitors to discuss your romance scam
Realising you have fallen victim to a romance scam can be truly devastating. Often, you have not only lost money, but you have lost someone you thought you could trust and were in a loving relationship with. If you think you have fallen victim to a romance scam, never feel embarrassed to speak help. Our trained advisors have dealt with a vast number of romance scams and we are here to listen to you, offer support and get your money back. Tell CEL by contacting us on 0808 273 0900.