Romance scams are different from other scams. They prey on lonely people looking to connect with someone, and can often take months to develop to the point where money changes hands. The emotional harm to the victim can be even more painful than the monetary loss.
The spread of online dating sites and apps has made romance scams easier to commit in recent years, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Romance scammers use dating websites, apps, Facebook and other social media. Many use stolen credit cards to join the sites and post fake profiles. They meet victims, interact with them and quickly try to get them to move to a different form communication such as e-mail or texting. This way, if the dating site identifies the scammer as being bogus and shuts them down, they are already in contact with their victims elsewhere.
The fraudster learns about the victim’s life and builds trust. This stage can go on for months. It may include daily texts. This helps test how open a victim may be to helping when an “emergency” pops up.
The scammer will finally ask for money; usually for an emergency, business problem, or plane ticket to finally meet. If the victim sends money, the scammer will find ways to keep asking for more.
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