Look out for romance scams during the holidays

Look out for romance scams during the holidays

By Greg Collier

Most people don’t like being alone during the holiday season. When someone finds themselves in just such a situation, they can often let their heart override their mind when it comes to being scammed. Many people who are looking for a little companionship, especially during the holiday season, can frequently ignore red flags which would normally be obvious indications of a scam. This is why we see romance scams affect people from those just getting by to those in the upper echelons of business.

The online romance scam can target not just those who are on dating apps, but those who may not have even been searching for a new partner. It starts when the victim is messaged by a scammer posing as someone else. Often the scammers will pose as a military member who is stationed overseas, but will sometimes pose as an oil rig worker or an international businessman. This is done to make it so the scammers have an easy out when it comes to why they can’t meet their supposed romantic partner in person or talk on the phone. The scammers will even use stolen pictures of actual service members and others to make the scam seem more convincing.

What all the romance scams have in common is that the scammer will eventually ask their victims for money. Sometimes it’s for a supposed emergency, while other times it’s to help with a big international business deal. We’ve even seen instances where victims were asked for money to help get jewels and gold bars out of a foreign country. Once a victim gives money to a romance scammer, the scammer will continue to ask for even more money. Recently, a Colorado woman was scammed out of $8000 by someone claiming to have been stationed in Afghanistan. However, we’ve also seen reports where victims ran afoul of the law after embezzling money from their employers just to pay their romantic partners, who are actually scammers.

If you’re on a dating app or platform and someone wants to message you outside the platform, this could be an indicator that they’re a scammer. The best way to protect yourself from romance scammers is to do a reverse image search of any picture they send you of themselves. If the results some back to someone who isn’t who they say they are, then your best bet is to cut off any communication with them. It goes doubly so if they start asking you for money if you haven’t even met yet.