Pandemic Related Romance Scams Are Officially a Multi-Dollar Industry
Scammers are preying on the lonely and vulnerable during the pandemic and this has rapidly become a multi-million-dollar industry. One study conducted by the FBI and Socialcatfish.com indicated that COVID-19-related romance scams have generated more than $200 million over the past year. With Valentine’s day right around corner, here are 7 extreme romance cyber reports over the past year:
- Devastated and lonely after the loss of her husband to cancer in 2017; not to mention the isolation brought on by the pandemic. Here’s a classic story of love found online that ended in a $25,000 scam.
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- By the time she realized the person she was talking to was not the man she’d seen in pictures she’d refinanced her home and lost nearly $250,000 trying to support him.
- After a month of intense emailing and a few romantic calls, Yvonne’s boyfriend needed money for essential rig parts. She happily transferred US$5,160.
- Long story short, after months of connection D’Antonio gave “Matthew” money. She says she didn’t want his 5-year-old son to be stranded while on an international trip.
- Penny Ward was scammed out of £500 and Elizabeth lost £30,000 from the SAME man who used the same photos and back story to woo the women at around the same time.
- Fort Stewart woman’s social media images stolen by online dating scammers
Here Are Tips To Protect Yourself Online From Romance Scams
- Only use reputable, nationally recognized dating websites. However, be aware that scammers may be using them too.
- Research photos and profiles in other online search tools and ask questions (you can Google image search a photo).
- Never provide your financial information, loan money, or allow your bank accounts to be used for transfers of funds.
- Do not allow someone to convince you to isolate yourself from family and friends.
- Do not blindly believe the stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, family deaths, injuries, or other hardships geared at keeping your interest and concern.
- If you’re planning to meet someone in person you have met online, meet in a public place and let someone know where you will be and what time you should return home.
- If you’re traveling to a foreign country to meet someone, check the State Department’s Travel Advisories beforehand, provide your itinerary to family and friends, and do not travel alone if possible.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Never share usernames, passwords for your private accounts.
- If the request is from someone familiar, call them to verify the request. Don’t just take a social media message at face value.