Love Should Not Be Blind

How to Avoid Romance Scams

In the “good old days,” one would meet a spouse/or significant other, the old fashioned way, face-to face, at a party, church, blind date, et cetera. Today, these in-person rituals have gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced by dating apps and sites. And whereas these types of interactions may provide access to more potential partners, they also present more danger. The current pandemic has worsened the situation because it has caused more isolation and loneliness. With people looking for love, more heartless opportunists have pounced on the vulnerable. General online fraud has increased and so has what is known as romance scams. 

Romance scams occur when an unscrupulous person adopts a fake identity to get a victim’s affection, eventually extorting them for financial gain.  Scammers usually work their victims, preying upon emotions and empathy to slowly gain their complete trust.  Eventually, they will ask for a favor in the form of a loan or small gift to bail them out of a situation. Small favors then grow into larger monetary demands.  These con artists of course, remain “hidden” avoiding physical meetings under one pretense or another. They might claim that they are in the military overseas, employed on an off-shore oil rig or working as a doctor with an international organization.  The overseas ruse is also a good cover to fake an emergency, an immigration, legal or health crisis that urgently needs attention.

 These scams are widespread.  The scammers are professionals. They have honed their craft and become highly successful. The Better Business Bureau for example, has estimated that victims in the United States and Canada have reported losing more than $1 billion over the last three years to online romance scam artists. 

Often, through no fault of their own, many victims have succumbed to their charms.  There are usually many red flags however.  Here are some tips to avoid becoming victims of a romance scam.

  • Resist the charms or someone who professes strong emotions in a relatively short period of time. Guard your information if they try to get personal details like answers to the security questions that restrict access to your internet accounts.
  • Be suspicious if they exert pressure on you to leave the dating site and use personal email.
  • Research the person’s photo and profile to see if his or her image, name or details have been used on multiple sites.
  • If the individual seems too good to be true, he or she might be a completely fictional creation.
  • Be wary if that individual keeps making excuses as to why an in-person meeting is impossible.
  • Don’t quickly transfer money from your financial institution account to send to them. In the same vein, do not purchase gift cards or cash reload cards to send in the mail.

 Lastly, if you think you have been duped, contact your bank or credit union right away.  You should also file a complaint with the FBI at and with the FTC at  It is embarrassing to be scammed but the shame lies with the perpetrator. Your quick actions may help to prevent the next person from becoming a victim of the growing crime of today’s online romance scams.

Get Started!