Fraudsters stop at nothing. They are willing to do whatever it takes to prey on people’s money, even if this means breaking hearts. With so many lonely individuals out there and the rise of dating websites, conmen often rely on love scams to make illicit gains. Despite their name, there’s nothing romantic about them. Learn more about how these scams work so you can avoid them.
What Are Love Scams?
Love or romance scams involve a victim and a scammer who are in a supposedly romantic relationship. The victim often meets the author on a dating website or app. Here, the con man starts talking to their victim randomly. However, once they spot the first signs of interest, they become more involved.
They pretend to be interested in anything the victim says or does. Moreover, they also claim they have many things in common. Naturally, all these spark hope, trust, and optimism in the other person. In the end, the whole purpose of spending time on these sites is to find a match.
Then, the conversation continues, and it sometimes lasts for weeks or months. Love scammers have different ways to operate. In the initial stage, the strategy is always identical. They aim to gain the person’s trust. Then, they get to the second part of the scheme – asking for money.
This is the critical part that needs to be carried out smoothly. Otherwise, victims can easily lose trust and back off. Furthermore, they can even sense the fraudulent attempt and get the authorities involved.
What Do Scammers Ask for?
This is the central element of romance scams – the request. There are a few common scenarios out there. However, scammers can be quite creative. In short, what they all ask for is money. But the reasons they invoke to get it may vary. A common feature is a sense of emergency they create, which is also a tactic we will explore further on.
Here are some of the most common storylines encountered in love scams. If you take time to browse online for ‘love scams’, you will surely find more examples.
1. The scammer asks for money because he/she is trapped in a third-world country. They somehow lost all their money or were robbed. Consequently, they have no means to turn back to their country unless they borrow money.
2. The scammer claims he or she is in a potentially life-threatening situation. They borrowed money from a powerful and dangerous person. Now, they need to return it otherwise they will suffer the consequences. Scammers often claim they received death threats too.
3. The scammer says they have been kidnapped and they desperately need money otherwise they risk getting killed. They need all or part of the alleged ransomed fast. Moreover, they insist that no authorities should be involved.
What Psychological Tactics Do Love Scammers Rely on?
People who use these deceitful schemes to make illegal money are cunning and clever. They know how to profit from people’s vulnerabilities. These are the most common emotional tools they use as leverage.
A Sense of Emergency
If you become emotionally attached to someone, you automatically want to help that person. Even more so, if they are in a critical situation, you want to step in. Love scammers are aware of this natural impulse.
They first lure their victims with compliments and promises. Then, when they realize that person got attached and started developing feelings they act. Although many people look for true love on online dating sites, scammers never wait to get that far.
They don’t need their victims to love them. They simply need their victims to start being interested in and like them. A person who feels sympathy for another individual will most probably want to help them during a crisis.
Emotional vulnerability is the key element scammers rely on in these love tricks. They start from the presumption that their victim is lonely and in need of affection. Then, they take advantage of these feelings. They nurture hope and trust and pretend to be a good companion. All these make victims more prone to open their hearts and wallets.
Feelings of Empathy and Moral Obligation
Empathy is another key emotional button scammers push. In fact, without it, the whole scam wouldn’t work. In the end, this is all it takes to want to help someone in need. And if the person is in a life-threatening situation, there is also a mixed feeling of fear and panic. What if you don’t act in time and that person suffers or dies? Won’t you feel guilty afterward?
Scammers who pull off successful love scams know their way around the human psyche. They are persuasive and careful. They know how and when to act and what emotional strings to pull. Therefore, be cautious when using dating sites where these individuals often operate.
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