Tinder Swindler: How to spot a romance scam

Tinder Swindler: How to spot a romance scam

The popular Netflix documentary, 'Tinder Swindler', has given the world a glimpse of how romance scammers work. Here is what you need to know to ensure you don't become a victim. 

Tinder Swindler
Tinder Swindler/ Twitter

More than 100 people have lost more than R100-million in romance scams since 2011, according to an IOL report. Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale told the publication that the figure is an estimate from the FBI. 

What is a romance scam? 

Southern African Fraud Prevention Service states that a romance scam "occurs when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim."

These scammers seem genuine, caring, and believable, says the FBI website

They also show their care for you by asking you personal questions / details so that they get to know as much as possible about you. This can include asking for your personal email address, cellphone number, your home address, work place, profession etc. 

These scammers would normally create profiles that show interests and hobbies that exactly match yours and they might present themselves as Mr/Mrs Right. 

READ: Tinder Swindler: Have you been a fool for love?

Another common sign of scammers is how they profess love quickly and can even promise to marry you. 

“Once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they allegedly concocted sob stories about why they needed money, taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etcetera,” Colonel Katlego Mogale told IOL. 

Some of the scammers can even claim to need money urgently for emergencies, hospital bills, or some life-threatening situation where they could die. 

How to avoid being scammed

- No matter how sad the story is or how much trouble they claim to be in, do not give into their request and give them money. Rather advise that they seek money from a bank or other financial institutions. 

- Do your own private research about the person. The FBI advises that you research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere. Sites such as https://images.google.com/ and https://tineye.com/ will help you do this. 

- Take things slowly and get to know the person as much as possible.

- Don't get too excited about receiving money from this person, especially early on in the relationship.

- Be careful of sending any compromising videos or photos that can later be used to blackmail you.

- Avoid sharing credit card details, online account details, or copies of important personal documents with someone you have met online. 

- Scammers may attempt to lure their victims overseas, so be careful if the person you just met wants you to travel outside the country to go and meet up with them. 

- Another tip is to never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

READ: Office romances: Why is it so easy to fall for your colleague?

Image courtesy of Twitter. 

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