Many people struggle to find the right partner. Some of them decide to look for lovers on online dating websites. But scammers can hunt for victims on these dating sites.
Australian web users lost over $25 million to scammers in 2013. Most of them were approached by friendly admirers who exploited their emotions.
But how do online romance scams work, and why can smart people fall for them?
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How online romance scams work
Romance scammers often use stolen photos to create fake online profiles. They operate on dating sites and social media.
The main goal of con artists is to defraud their victims of large sums of money once they create rapport with them.
Even smart people can start developing strong feelings for new admirers. The attention is flattering, and regular communication naturally builds bonds.
A fraudster may start professing their love for you soon after you meet online. They might ask you to communicate by email or Instant Messenger rather than in the dating site.
The scammer starts asking for favours from their victims once they earn their trust. It might include buying them a phone for better communication. If you agree to such a request, the scammer will always end up asking you to send them large sums of money.
Sometimes scammers introduce a third party to help with the swindle. For example, a “doctor” might call you claiming that your friend fell ill and went to hospital. Now they need help paying their medical bills.
Some victims don’t believe that their new lovers were con artists only interested in their money. They hope that their admirers are real. Such a lack of healthy skepticism can make someone get scammed time and again. For example, a third party might contact the victim and promise to help them get their money back.
Reasons why smart people fall for online romance scams
Here are some reasons why romance scammers can deceive even smart people.
Some people tend to idealise their romantic partner. They tend to focus on the positives and forget the negatives in their new romance. They may believe in romantic destiny and perceive compliments as being genuine.
Even smart people can idealise their admirer. And research shows that people who idealise their partners are more likely to be scammed.
Smart people get lonely too. Some web users prefer expressing themselves online rather than in the real world. They form relationships with other internet users. About 15 percent of marriages have resulted from online romance.
Most dating sites offer a great user experience. They make single people believe that they are not alone. You can access the profile of any web user, explore and like them. Dating profiles offer vital information about individuals who are looking for partners.
Many people like interacting with others online. It makes them feel safe and in control when compared to some real-life connections. Scammers play into this by claiming to share similar likes and interests with their victims.
Relationship experts recommend researching a specific dating website before you create a profile. And be realistic about your chances of finding the perfect partner through online dating. Use online romance as an interpersonal practice.
Some smart people are sensation or thrill seekers. They may be ready to take financial, legal and social risks to have thrilling dating experiences. Sensation seekers keep calm when they are in risky situations, unlike low sensation seekers. They may engage in risky activities whenever an opportunity arises.
High sensation seekers fall in love with attractive and daring partners. They get into romantic relationships faster than low sensation seekers.
How to avoid romance scams
Online romance scams cause emotional and financial distress. It is wise to avoid sharing personal information such as your phone number and street address online. Scammers may be able to take advantage of you if they have vital documents such as your credit card details.
Avoid communicating with online admirers outside the dating site. You might be tempted to contact them through social media platforms such as WhatsApp. But most scammers hide their identity when they swindle money. Ask your admirer to meet you at a public space and inform one of your close friends about it. Use tools such as Google Image search to determine the authenticity of photos which your admirer might have sent.
Romance scams adversely affect innocent web users. It can be difficult for some smart people to socialize with strangers in real life. But with a little care you can make it harder for a scammer to succeed.
What if I’m worried my online admirer is a scammer?
If you’re concerned about you or your loved one’s new romance, it’s important to make sure. Melbourne Investigations has carries out online romance background checks. Our female investigation manager is easy to talk to for males and females. And your romance and concerns will be treated with absolute discretion and respect. Contact us today to talk.