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What is a Romance Scam?

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  • Written By: Lauren Romano
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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A romance scam is when one person forms an online pseudo-romantic relationship with another in an effort to try to swindle money out of them. The victims believe that they are in an actual relationship, only to later find that they have been conned. The lucky ones are those that realized what was happening before actually losing any of their money.

Someone that is trying to pull off a romance scam will contact another person by email, through a dating website or by any other means of communication via the internet. This person then works on forming a friendship with the hopes of it eventually leading to a pseudo-romantic relationship. In some cases, the transition from one level to the other is extremely quick and the victim believes that he or she is involved in a whirlwind romance. The scammer then makes the move for money, and in some cases, actually gets it.

It is important to beware of getting involved in a romance scam when talking to someone on the internet. The scammer may use sweet talk to get you to fall in love with him or her and can make promises of a future together that he or she has no intention of keeping. Some actually go as far as to propose marriage to keep you entangled in their lies. These people know how to prey on emotions and feelings and have no qualms about taking advantage of you to get what they want.

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When trying to pull off a romance scam, elaborate excuses are used by the scammer in an effort to try to get you to send money. He or she could ask for money for plane tickets to come and see you, only to never show up and explain how the tickets weren’t refundable. In some cases, the scammers even use the excuses that they are having problems paying for bills or are in a desperate medical situation and need the money. The requests for money are often followed by the promise to pay back every cent. Whether they ask for your bank account information, for money to be wired, or for cash or a money order to be sent these are signs that the person you are speaking with isn’t who they say they are.

One way to avoid getting entangled in a romance scam is to be incredibly cautious of your activity online. If someone is asking for money, chances are that you’re never going to see a dime of it back again. You should never send money, no matter what reasons are given for needing it. In addition, your personal information should be kept private, as it can be used by the scammers to gain access to your money, whether or not their requests are initially complied with.

Should you realize that someone is trying to run a romance scam on you, immediately report him or her to the authorities. Cease any communication with this person and any incoming correspondence should be blocked. While love can be a beautiful thing, there are those that try to take advantage of emotions and a kind heart for their own agenda.

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Discuss this Article

JeanieG
Post 5

This scammer approached me on Facebook, claiming he found me through our common Facebook friends. He is a good looking guy. His timeline photos show a mixture of both good and ugly pictures at different angles and time with extensive information on his profile. His Facebook profile was constructed in 2011. He had a few friends and several postings on his timeline since 2011 to recent.

He claimed to be of Irish descent who relocated to Bristol UK. He said he was a project engineer for six months project in Sabah Malaysia, constructing a bridge. This scam is very good and uses all the psychology in his bag of tricks. Everything that is written about how the online romance scammer works was reversed to sound like you are chatting with a normal, real person looking for a serious relationship. It was hardly detectable. There were no flowery words to lure you, but it just seemed like the normal chatting you do with real people online.

He asked lots of questions to get to know me. He sent lots and lots of photos. All the photos came with convincing stories. The first six weeks or so started with getting to know each other. The courtship started only after about four weeks. During the early days, he only gave hints. He said all he wanted was to find someone to settle down with for life. He said that at his stage in his life, he had accomplished everything he wanted in his life except having a loving wife and family. He indicated that if he found someone, he would like to get married in about three to six months. He also indicated that relocation and rearranging his life and career to be with the woman he loves was not a problem.

He claimed he hadn’t had relationship for six years because he couldn’t trust women -- until he met me. He claimed that knowing me and chatting with me made his life happy again.

He sounded like a normal, thoughtful guy with a keen interest in me, who was willing to travel and relocate to meet me first and see if we could work out things with our meeting and potential relationship. The way he found me is through an act of God or destiny bringing us together. He sounded like we have a lot in common. He acted like he did some kind of astrological profiling on me (or his victims). What is bizarre even is that we have the same birthdate.

These people converse as if they are really intelligent professionals, with no errors in grammar or punctuation, etc., which is common with Nigerian scammers. Their sentences are very well constructed and when you are chatting with them, their response is quick. One thing about him also is that he said he is a churchgoer and God-fearing person. It was only after few weeks of grooming me that he got to the next level by showing how sweet he is and claiming he was the person I was longing to have in your life. They know all the nice words to say.

He also prepared convincing evidence as well, like a booking confirmation from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne, which he emailed to me to prove that he was flying to meet me and to see if we can make a happy future together. To prove that he was a well off successful businessman, he booked a business class, one way ticket, with the intention of staying in a five-star hotel. He was asking for money didn't get until the last two days of his intended arrival in Melbourne. He claimed he left his wallet in the taxi, with all his credit cards. The way he asked for money is not a vulgar way of asking for money from you. He got the conversation around so I would offer financial help. I ended up offering money, which he said he would return once he got his new card from the UK.

All was uneventful until the time I excitedly waited for his intended arrival at airport. Then, he didn't show up and I realized I had been scammed. I did some research on the photos he provided me and later found out they were stolen photos from someone else’s profile.

amypollick
Post 2

@jecpb: I've said it on other sites: You are, in all likelihood, being scammed. This is the classic story: soldier in a forward area like Afghanistan has a child, is a widower and needs you to do one of a few things: send him money for clothes and toiletries; request leave for him and pay some outrageous fee, which you will, of course, get back; send him money because he can't access his; or get him some satellite phone so he can talk to you. They're all scams.

Here's the truth, from someone who lives in the U.S., and has friends in the military. He's not even in the armed forces, first of all. The photos on his site are probably also on another fake profile. They are stolen.

Second, personnel in the U.S. armed forces have regular bank accounts and always have access to their money, whether through the paymaster on base, or an ATM, or what have you. They can get to their money.

Third, personnel can get clothing and toiletries on base. While care packages with their favorites are always welcome, the military supplies them with the basics, and if the base has some kind of PX store, they can get whatever they need.

Fourth, the individual soldier himself requests his own leave and does not need a family member to request the leave, or to pay for their trip. The armed forces pays for their travel.

Fifth, a soldier can call his family with phone cards or via SKYPE. They don't need someone to pay for a satellite phone. They have cell phones.

These people are counting on the fact that others who live outside the US know nothing about how the armed forces operate.

Don't send any money and cut off contact with this guy. You are being scammed.

jecpb
Post 1

Has anyone heard of a Michael Williams Antonsanti?

He says he is a soldier in Afghanistan, and has a 5 year old daughter living with his family, and will be home in one month.

I looked up his profile on facebook and the same picture of him popped up along with his D.O.B.as August 09, 1961. Trouble is, he says he is 40 and that day is when he lost his wife in a car wreck. I asked him for his birthdate, and he said it was Sept. 2. He professes love and marriage.

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