An online romance can be exciting, and they really can work and move into real life. But sadly, criminals often use online romance scams to extract money from their victims.
These criminals are skilled con artists. They are trained to know what to say to make their victims trust them. They usually work in organised crime “businesses” that can have many agents operating multiple online love scams at once.
This is big business. In 2018, Australians reported $23 million lost to romance scams. The real figure is probably higher.
All of this might sound scary. Is online dating worth the risk? Thankfully, it’s possible to watch out for some warning signs that your new online love interest may not be genuine.
Sign 1: Odd details and interactions
Online romance scammers manage a number of fake profiles and relationships at once. They might start chatting to you with vague, generic sounding introductions. These are likely to be pre-written scripts. They may not mention things that specifically relate to you.
If their target shows interest, the scammer will get involved more directly. Their tone or writing style might suddenly change as they are no longer using a pre-written script. A scammer might show their hand by giving inconsistent details about themselves. For example, they might say one thing in their profile but something different in their chats. Or their photos and self descriptions don’t really seem to match each other.
Sign 2: Going too fast too soon
Scammers want one thing: money. If they can accelerate the fake romances they are running, they have more chance of getting money from their victims. That means early declarations of love are common in online romance scams. If it seems odd that an online relationship is moving so quickly, it could be a scam.
Online love scammers also regularly try to move communication away from the dating website. They want to be able to attempt their scam in a place that’s away from the dating website’s control.
Sign 3: Asking for money or gifts
Once an online romance scam has a victim hooked, the scammer will try to cash in. Beware of requests for money or other odd favours. Common approaches are:
- Telling sob stories about health, family or financial disasters.
- Asking directly for money to help them or their family.
- Asking for odd favours like parcel deliveries or meeting their friends who are local to you.
If the scam victim doesn’t send money quickly, the con artist may sound more desperate or direct. They may say the victim doesn’t really love them, or threaten to cut off the relationship.
Get an online romance scam check for your peace of mind
If you’re worried about your online romance, Melbourne Investigations is on your side. We want the relationship to be real, but we also want you to be safe.
Our relationship background investigators know how to spot fake romance scams. We can carry out an investigation that could give you more peace of mind that your new love is who they say they are.
Our female investigation manager is easy to talk to and won’t judge you. If you’re at all concerned about your online romance, please get in touch.