our everyday life

How to Identify a Romance Scammer

by Latoya Newman

Romance scammers are a special class of con artists who use seduction to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. This form of deception is practiced by both males and females who primarily use the Internet as their tool. They can remain cloaked from their victims to a certain degree; online chatting means that they never have to reveal their true faces or voices. Unfortunately, it doesn't take too long before the scammers' true intentions become known, which are typically the desire for your sympathy, money or valuables.

Questionable Identity

The effort to conceal his true identity means that the information he gives about his name and location will not match up, according to the article, "Dating and Romance" on ScamWatch online. An online image search will reveal that his profile image is from a magazine or belongs to someone else. He may claim to live in one locale, but some of the colloquialisms he uses are wrong. If he claims to be from Iowa, but he tells you that since he's from the Midwest, he loves to have bangers for breakfast, your antennae should start twitching.

Too Fast, Too Soon

A romance scammer is a master of manipulation. She is skilled at profiling and will use any weakness to her advantage. Those who usually fall victim tend to be idealistic with high romantic beliefs, according to research done by professors of psychology, Monica Whitty and Tom Buchanan, in the study, "The Psychology of the Online Dating Romance Scam," published by the University of Leicester. She has read so many of the victim’s posts, she knows just how to present herself as the ideal match with so much in common. Your new online "friend" is likely to profess extreme devotion and affection and may even make claims to having found her soul mate.

Too Much, Too Soon

He isn’t after romance, friendship or marriage -- the typical claims. Rather, the goal is the victim’s money, possessions, or a favor of some sort. Soon after meeting online, the scammer will try to take the relationship offline, suggesting use of emails, phone calls or texting. He may express the desire to meet up in person, but unfortunately, will say that he doesn't have enough money to cover his fare, suggests ScamWatch. Once he feels that the relationship is solid he might ask for a loan. If he senses that the victim is the emotional type, he may claim that he or family member -- a grandmother perhaps -- needs money for immediate medical treatment. The FBI estimates that those who fall for these traps experience an average loss of $15,000 and $20,000, according to 2012 statistics.

How Not to Be a Victim

These types of scammers like to target women who are recently widowed, are of late-middle age, and anyone who presents themselves as needy or gullible. These last two traits are easily picked up on by the adept con artist. As for age, all she has to do is reference the victim’s profile picture. Of course, the one she posts could be anybody, and she might change it to match what she imagines the target might find attractive. With so many social networks available for creating profiles, don't hesitate to do a search on someone you've just met. Allow yourself as much time as possible to get to know someone before sending gifts or exchanging too many personal details such as supplying banking information. If it's true love, then your friend will wait for you too.

About the Author

Latoya Newman is a novelist who wrote and published her first novel in 2012. She has a background in education, research and counseling. She taught at the elementary level for eight years, and has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images