In today’s socially complex and digital age, scams have in many ways become a part of everyday life. Many of these are what we would consider nuisances, like somebody claiming that your computer has been infected with a virus, or a call that supposedly comes from your bank alerting you to a breach in your account while still needing your login information.
But in the end, nothing beats a good old fashioned con. Scams focused on creating certain emotions within people and then exploiting those emotions to override a victim’s critical thinking. One of the more common emotions that are preyed upon, and that is related to the examples above, is fear.
But recently, scams utilizing a separate but perhaps an equally powerful feeling, love, have recently had much more attention drawn in the media. Recently, the FBI released a report explaining that so-called “Romance Scams” cost United States Citizens up to 1 billion dollars in total. Further, a recent documentary released on Netflix called “The Tinder Swindler” has also brought attention to the issue and occurred in Europe, even if the specifics of that particular scam are not the norm.
With this in mind, Morse Investigation Services wanted to create a PSA which lists some of the warning signs of a scam. Everyone thinks that it could never happen to them, but truly anybody can be conned. It is important to know the signs ahead of time.
With that said, keep some of the following in mind the next time you meet someone online that may just be too good to be true:
- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Examples by Morse Investigations: Recently Divorced, Widowed, and other life changing events.
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
- Morse Investigations Tip: Google and others offer a free image search that may be helpful. We also have a proprietary facial recognition system in place that often yields quite impressive results.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
- Morse Investigations Tip: Use the response to look for any inconsistencies.
- Beware, if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
At Morse Investigation Services, we have received an influx of calls regarding romance scams. Of the warning signs mentioned above, the most common one that comes up during the conversation in many of the victims stories is a lack of meeting the individual that the victim is speaking with. The excuses as for why they have not been able to meet can drag on for months and even years in some instances depending on the story given.