- Romance scam victim. Even now, though, she remains conflicted. A part of her still wants to believe that Charlie is real and that their relationship was real—that the e-mail exchanges about.
- Romance scam victims tend to be middle-aged, well-educated women. Moreover, they tend to be more impulsive (scoring high on urgency and sensation seeking), less kind, more trustworthy, and have an addictive disposition. It is argued here that these findings might be useful for those developing prevention programs and awareness campaigns.
Gardaí are advising people to beware of Romance Scams.
Victims of the scam believe they have met their perfect match online, but the other person is in fact a scammer using a fake profile to build the relationship. They slowly gain the victim’s trust with a view to eventually asking them for money.
One Irish woman was showered with expensive gifts, including scarves and perfumes, before she was asked to invest in her suitor’s business. Over a thirteen (13) month period, the woman gave the romance fraudster €48,000. The woman initially delayed reporting the fraud to Gardaí as she was married.
The extent of the scam is not fully known because many of the victims are too embarrassed to report the fraud to Gardaí.
Detective Inspector Catharina Gunne from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau warns: 'Romance fraudsters may try to get their victims to send them money using the following excuses:
• to cover the cost of travelling to see the victim;
• for emergency medical expenses for the scammer or a family member — typically a child;
• a business opportunity which would allow them to live together comfortably.
In the beginning, the amount of money requested will often be small but increases as the scammer becomes more successful in building the ‘relationship’ and tricking the victim.”
Recently, a romance fraudster in the west of Ireland was found guilty of taking nearly €19,000 from a victim. The perpetrator obtained money through deception over a five (5) month period after meeting the victim through a dating website.
An Garda Síochána works closely with Europol to disrupt the activities of romance scammers, particularly organised crime gangs that engage in this type of criminality. Dating websites are often monitored for criminality.
What are the Signs?
Romance Fraudsters will:
Romance scam victims tend to be middle-aged, well-educated women. Moreover, they tend to be more impulsive (scoring high on urgency and sensation seeking), less kind, more trustworthy, and have an addictive disposition. It is argued here that these findings might be useful for those developing prevention programs and awareness campaigns.
• Try to move communications away from dating websites. They suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead.
• Ask a lot of personal questions.
• Avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or do not reflect reality. For instance, they may say that they’re university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor.
• Try to establish a bond quickly. For example, they may give you an endearing pet name e.g. baby, darling, etc.
• Ask for financial help. They may tell you about money problems in the hope that you’ll offer to help.
• Never meet you in person. They will present obstacles and may go as far as making arrangements and cancelling them at the last minute. They may promise to want to see you but offer excuses which delay this, such as financial troubles.
What can you do?
1. Use trusted dating websites.
2. Do not share personal details.
3. Do not send or receive money.
4. Think twice before using your webcam.
5. Trust your instincts.
Are you a victim?
If you believe that you are a victim of a romance scam, or think your identity or personal information has been compromised, contact any Garda Station and report the crime. Please be assured that An Garda Síochána will treat all reports in confidence.
Video advice is available here:
It all starts out innocently enough. A man reaches out online through private messaging or the dating app you’re on. He seems to say and do all the right things. Everything seems perfect. And you fall for him. Hard.
It happens all the time. There’s rarely a day that goes by when someone isn’t reaching out to me about the amazing person they met online.
A Victim Of Romance Author
In the cases I deal with, the man is impersonating a soldier in the U.S. military. Seeing a very attractive soldier reaching out to establish a connection seems to easily make people trust the situation. After all, who is more honorable than someone who has chosen to serve his country?
Soon enough, he’s requesting monetary funds in one way or another. Sometimes it will start out very innocently such as asking for an iTunes card. Other times, they go straight for the ultimate prize and ask for thousands of dollars to return home from a deployment.
The truth is that in almost all of the cases I’ve worked with, the women had alarm bells going off. Something just didn’t seem quite right. Some stopped the conversation with the “soldier” and reached out to me. Case closed very quickly at that point.
Sadly, in many of the women who have come to me for help, they have already sent thousands of dollars to this man and, in a few cases, tens of thousands of dollars.
Women have told me they have been left with nothing as they turned their life savings over to this man who was making grand promises of a fairytale life together if she could just help him get back home.
If you’re in that situation or know someone else who is, read on for the action steps to take now.
One quick note before we dive in, it’s not just women who are victims of the scams. There are female scammers and male victims, as well as same-sex scams. There is no discrimination when it comes to scams parting you with your hard-earned money.
Realize You Aren’t Alone
When people reach out to me, they’re not only heartbroken but also incredibly disappointed in themselves that they fell victim to a scammer.
I have worked with thousands of people since I wrote my first article on scammers impersonating soldiers and I would venture to guess that’s a small percentage of the ones who are actually out there.
In fact, many of the scammers are working on multiple victims at the same time. Not everyone is going to send money so they increase their odds by carrying on multiple “relationships” at once.
There’s no easy way to deal with the emotional side of things. But take at least some solace in knowing that others have fallen prey to the same tactics.
Block Him and Report His Profile
This is one that is usually toughest for those that I work with. You must block him on whatever platform you’re communicating with him on. And even though he may turn around and just set up a new profile, you should still report that profile, whether it’s to Facebook or a dating site.
Many women balk at the thought of this. They either want to figure out a way to bust him or they think if he knows that she’s figured it out, he can just come clean and they can move on with an honest relationship.
I can’t tell you the number of times women have said they confronted him, he admitted it was a scam but then said that she’s different – he was truly in love with her. He’s a changed man because of her.
These are probably some of the most heartbreaking situations as no matter what I say to them or how much proof there is, they go back to the scammer. This only results in having more money taken from them in the future by this man who has supposedly changed his ways.
The way to sanity and to truly move on from this situation is to block him. Cut off any form of communication you have with him.
He is a scammer, pure and simple. And he will not change. He knows exactly what to say to suck you back in but you now have the knowledge now to know it’s a facade. Block him.
Realize the Threats Are Empty
In some cases, when the woman confronts the scammer about the scam and he realizes he isn’t going to get any money, he gets angry and starts hurling threats.
This could be anything from he is going to come after you physically, he’s going to hurt your family or he’s going to expose the information you have provided him over the time you’ve been communicating. This could be pictures or even sensitive financial information.
These scammers are generally in another country. In most cases, they’re on another continent. They’re not coming here to hunt you down over not sending them an iTunes card or giving them a $1,000. It would cost them more than that to get here.
What they can do is expose your information, but in every case that I’ve worked with so far, that hasn’t happened. Denver ii screening tool.
With all that said, if you truly believe your safety is at risk, contact your local authorities for assistance.
Protect Yourself From Further Financial Damage
Have you provided him with bank account information or credit card numbers? Have you given him your social security number or other highly sensitive personal data?
Many, many people have done this. They have provided access to their bank account or, in some cases, even added him to their bank account.
If you have provided any financial or sensitive data, you need to act fast. Once they realize you aren’t going to willingly give them money, they may use the information they have to get it.
Credit Cards – If you have provided credit card data, call the credit card company and let them know an unauthorized person now has access to your credit card information. Ask for the card to be closed and have another card issue.
Pay close attention to your credit card statements and any charges that may appear. Any unauthorized charges can be disputed with the credit card company.
Bank Accounts – If you have added someone to your account or otherwise provided access to your bank account, contact the bank immediately to have the account closed.
Again, be sure to watch your account closely to be sure unauthorized transfers and withdrawals aren’t happening. Be sure to be forthright with the bank as to what happened so they can flag your account.
Social Security Number & Other Sensitive Data – If you have provided this information which could allow someone to steal your identity and begin getting credit in your name, you need to contact the credit bureaus.
There are three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You can contact each one and have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. If you cannot prove you have been a victim of identity theft (yet), there is a small fee to place the alert.
This essentially locks your credit report and places a fraud alert message on the credit report to alert creditors that additional steps to verify the transaction need to occur.
Creditors will not be able to conduct a full credit check without a PIN that you have been provided by that particular agency.
It’s a pain when you are legitimately trying to open a new credit source (like buying a car), but believe me, trying to unravel everything after identity theft is way worse.
File a Report with Authorities
Let me say up front, it is highly unlikely you will ever recover the money that you have sent to the scammer. You can alert the FBI and their internet crimes division about the situation that has occurred. But don’t expect that it will result in getting your hard-earned money back.
In all the time that I’ve been working with people involved with these scams, no one has ever recovered their money. But some do get satisfaction in knowing they have at least reported the crime to the appropriate authorities.
Educate Yourself on the Signs of a Scam
By this point, you have firsthand knowledge of how the scam happens but these scammers change their tactics all the time. In fact, quite a few people who reach out to me for help are reaching out multiple times over the course of a few months to ask about different people.
When they are saying and doing all of the right things, promising you this amazing life together as soon as he returns stateside, and sending super attractive pictures, it can be tough to think with your head and not your heart.
Throughout the site, I’ve written about signs of a scam as well as the different types of scams that have been run over the years. Take the time to read the articles as well as share with others.
The only way we will be able to stop these monsters is through education. When it becomes an unprofitable venture, they will have no reason to continue. But every woman who sends them money just emboldens them more and more.
We must get the word out to other people to stop the cycle. It’s the only way.
Don’t Try to Contact the Real Soldier
I don’t allow pictures of the soldiers that women have been sent to be posted on my site or on my social media channels. The soldiers in the pictures are just as much of a victim in this whole thing as you are.
They are also just as powerless to stop the scammer as you are. In the beginning, I would try to find the soldier with the goal of telling them about the scam using their images.
This did nothing but cause heartache to know that not only had their pictures been stolen, but they were also being used to scam others.
A Victim Of Romance Movie
The one and only benefit is that those who had a public profile (which allowed their pictures to be stolen), they would often change their settings to private.
In some cases, I will still find the real soldier but I no longer do so with the goal of making contact. I do so to prove to the woman who won’t believe otherwise that the person they are talking to is not the man in the picture.
Many times, these soldiers are married with children. For the woman who tells me she must find the real soldier because she’s fallen in love with him, finding the real profile and allowing them to see they have a family already is what needs to happen for closure.
You may believe you have fallen in love with the person in the picture but just remember the real soldier in those pictures doesn’t even know who you are. You have actually fallen in love with the deceitful scammer who is taking advantage of you and your giving heart.
A Victim Of Romance Cast
Please note that I am not always successful in locating the real soldier and it is a tedious process to try to track down a real person based on the fake information the scammer has shared. I am not able to honor every request to track down the real soldier.
I hope this information has been helpful to you if you have fallen victim to a scam.
A Victim Of Romance Scammers
If you are having a tough time dealing with the emotional side of everything that has happened, please reach out to a qualified person in your area, whether that’s a member of the clergy or a therapist.
A Victim Of Romance Novels
If you have further questions about how to handle the situation after you’ve been scammed or you’re trying to figure out if you’re the victim of a romance scam involving a soldier, please reach out to me via Facebook Messenger or join our Facebook community.