Scammers employ various methods in an attempt to steal their victim’s money, personal information, or trick them into facilitating the proceeds of crime. These methods can involve the use of letters, emails, phone calls, social media and different websites.
Staying vigilant and educating yourself on the methods a scammer may use to gain access to your information is one way you can protect yourself. This article will focus on what you need to know about romance scams.
What is a Romance Scam?
Through the use of fake profiles on dating websites, apps or social media platforms, scammers aim to lower their victim’s defences by pretending to create a romantic connection with their target. Once they’ve charmed their victim and enough trust has been built, the requests for money will begin.
- Unexpected communication from someone you don’t know or don’t have any mutual connections with.
- Romantic attention from someone that you don’t know or haven’t met in person that seems to be progressing quickly, i.e. the person confesses their love or strong feelings soon after talking.
- Urgent requests for financial help. Claims that evoke an emotional and urgent response may include a sick family member or some sort of desperate situation that requires financial help. The scammer may also ask for funds so that they can visit, but then never show up.
- Be cautious about who you communicate with. It’s easy for scammers to pose as someone else online. If you haven’t met the person before, be aware that they may not be who they claim to be.
- Never send money, financial information or personal information to someone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
- Avoid providing any personal information that could be used to impersonate you.
- If you think you are being or may have been scammed, stop all contact and protect your accounts and devices immediately. Reach out to your financial institution and ensure your electronic devices are secure (find an IT specialist that can help if required).
- Report the scam to Netsafe (netsafe.org.nz). The Netsafe website is also a good way to keep up to date on common scams and what to look out for.
- Seek support if you have been scammed. Contact IDCARE for victim support on 0800 121 068.