Spot the signs
People who have fallen victim to romance scams tend to report the same pattern. If someone you know is using online dating or friendship sites and reports any of these signs, it may indicate they are being scammed…
Generally the scam starts with an initial contact by the scammer
The scammer may be a member of the same online dating site as you or any online forum you have joined. The scammer may also contact you on social media such as Facebook – this is why you should never accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
Their profile picture is very attractive
It’s common for scammers to use stolen photographs of beautiful people. You can check whether someone’s profile picture is associated with anyone else by accessing the website in Google Chrome, right-clicking on the picture and then clicking ‘Search Google for image’. Google will then display any other websites that the image is on. If the person seems to have a different name on other websites, chances are they are tricking you.
The scammer asks you a lot of questions about yourself
This is because the more information they know about you, the easier you will be to manipulate. The scammer will spin a tale about him or herself as well. Eventually you begin speaking over the phone. This stage can last for weeks, even months.
The discussion is friendly at first, but turns romantic very quickly
They shower you with compliments and claim to be falling in love with you. Victims usually report that this shift occurs very early on in the relationship – so if it all seems to be happening too fast, it might very well be a scam.
Their story, or parts of it, change over time
If someone is making up their life story, it can be easy to forget what they’ve said before. If some part of their story doesn’t sound quite right, or match what they said last month, that could indicate they are lying.
Their grammar and spelling is poor
Many scams originate overseas. If the scammer tells you they’re from the UK, but writes as if English is not their first language, this should be a red flag.
They refuse to Skype or video call you, or meet in person
They always find an excuse as to why they can’t do this.
Eventually the scammer asks you to lend them money
They use any number of reasons: they need help to pay for the flight or other transport to meet you. They are in some sort of trouble. They need money to pay for medical care, either for themselves or someone close to them. Or they have a great business or investment opportunity that could benefit both of your futures.