According to the 2022 FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3), this past year, victims claim to have lost approximately $700 million to romance scammers. While romance scams are not something new, the popularity of online dating has allowed criminals to increase their pool of victims from the comfort of a computer screen. This Valentine’s Day, we ask that everyone in an online relationship, take a double look at their significant other and see if they can spot any red flags.
Things that you should be on the lookout for:
- The subject only has glamour photos of themselves.
- The subject has only communicated over the phone or chat room/text.
- The subject quickly wants to establish a serious relationship.
- The subject has a high number of similar likes/hobbies.
- The subject claims to be working or living in a different area from you.
- The subject has missed plans to meet up (i.e., unexplained emergencies).
- The subject has a private/confidential job (i.e., undercover special agent).
- The subject shares that they are having money issues.
- The subject’s social media account(s) have a low number of friends/followers.
- The subject’s social media profile has friends primarily of 1 gender.
Tips/Tricks That You Can Do to Prevent Being a Victim
- Limit the amount of confidential information you post online (i.e., don’t share how much money you have in the bank).
- Chat over video to confirm that their face matches their photos.
- Check if their phone number’s area code matches their city/location.
- Reverse search their photograph and/or name to see if other names pop up online.
- Refrain from sending the subject any money (i.e., do they overreact when you refuse?).
Still Have Doubts? Hire a Private Investigator
If all else fails and you want to dig deeper, you can always hire a private investigator to get to the bottom of the situation. Depending on the information that you have, a private investigator can provide you with additional information, such as to determine if the subject’s phone number matches the name that they are using online, or if their online profile picture is tied to another. Additional services such as social media investigations (SMI) are available, depending on the known information of the subject. At the private investigation firm of Bosco Legal Services Inc, the work is billed hourly, with typical budgets for something like this ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Learn about the facts of SMI here.
What Can You Do if You Are a Victim of an Online Romance Scam?
If you suspect you have been the victim of a scam, we suggest you reach out to local law enforcement and/or file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3).
At Bosco Legal Services, we have trained cyber analysts that are able to assist our clients in tracking down the identity of a fake account. In situations like these, the goal becomes to track down the account and gather any necessary social media evidence that will be admissible in court. In addition to our investigative fees, more often than not, any legal action will require that the client find and hire an attorney, which would incur attorney fees and court fees. In about 65% of cases we handle, hiring an attorney is a necessary step to unmask the identity of the bad actor.
According to the Harvard Medical School, people in healthy relationships tend to live longer and are less likely to suffer from a heart attack. It is no wonder, that Valentine’s Day has a special place in the hearts of so many. This Valentine’s Day, Bosco Legal Services encourages everyone to stay safe and to watch out for romance scams.
If you are interested in starting an investigation, feel free to submit your details and an investigator will be available to take down your information. To learn more about the investigative services and online harassment resources that we offer, and to stay up-to-date in this field, feel free to subscribe to our blog.