Sweetheart Scams can hurt both your heart and your bank account.
The National Consumers League (NCL) is sounding the alarm about Sweetheart Scams. It is also referred to as the Romance or Friends Scam. Con Artists are swindling their victims out of millions of dollars. According to the NCL report, the average victim loses approximately $18,831. The group says that complaints to their organization about Sweetheart Scams have spiked upwards by 45%. That’s double the amount of complaints from 2017.
Con Artists are Masters of Persuasion
They prey on their intended victim’s powerful emotions. Examples of those powerful emotions are fear, greed, urgency, pride, loneliness and love. Realize that Love and Loneliness are two of the most powerful emotions on earth. Victims of Sweetheart Scams act on both of those emotions, rather than using reason. It’s as if the con artist has cast an impenetrable spell on their victim.
Con Artists are not looking for affection or a loving relationship
Their goal is to separate you from your money. It’s also much easier now for them to pull off these romance scams because of the digital age. Kindling a relationship with their victim can be a long drawn out process or it can happen fairly quickly.
It may begin with a phishing email, a contact on social media or when someone joins an online dating website such as Match.com. The con artist will create a fake online profile that’s designed to lure you in. They will use a fake name and photo. They often falsely take on the identity of a trusted person such as a professional working abroad or someone in the military or perhaps an aid worker in a foreign country.
Realize that these con artists will strike up a relationship with not just you, but with hundreds of potential victims. Be especially wary if your new-found-friend or lover quickly asks you to move your conversations from the website’s messaging platform to your personal email or phone.
Eventually, that new special someone in your life will convince you to send them money to pay for some kind of emergency. They may even ask you for money so they can travel to visit you. Either way it’s a trap!
Younger people claim they would never fall for this type of scam, but the statistics say otherwise. Con artists work to gain the victim’s trust and separate them from their support system. Victims are so convinced that they have found their true love, that they will even put themselves in harm’s way. One woman, a teacher, flew to Jamaica to meet her lover and was murdered in the process.
The elderly population also seems to be vulnerable to the Sweetheart Scam. Many of them have suffered a painful loss, like the death of a spouse or other family member. Many of them live alone and are yearning for companionship or love. Con artists easily manipulate and swindle people who are in such an emotional state of mind.
Keep in mind that when money is sent via a gift card, MoneyGram, or a prepaid debit card it is untraceable and you will never get your money back!
Scams-of-the-heart are especially egregious, because victims are hurt both emotionally and financially. To read the National Consumers League article on this topic go to: https://www.nclnet.org/romance_scams