How To Spot And Avoid Online Romance Scams:

By Rotimi Onadipe

Romance scam is the manipulation of a relationship for fraudulent or financial gain. It happens when a scammer creates a fake identity or profile to gain a victim's trust and affection in order to deceive and defraud the victim. The main focus of the scammers is to study the victims, build an intimate relationship with them, take advantage of them and eventually defraud them of their hard-earned money.

In most cases, the scammer pretends to be a military officer, construction engineer, footballer, film actor or the son/daughter of a wealthy person. He has also created a lot of profiles with different names, pictures, status, profession and nationality. He pretends to be in love with his victim and he will be communicating with the victim regularly, sending sweet words and love songs. He also uses voice changer Apps when calling the victim so as to use a male or a female voice.

He will eventually tell his victim that he wants to meet her in person and needs money for traveling expenses. If the victim sends the money to him, he will come up with other excuses e.g. he may claim he had an accident while he was on his way to pick up his traveling documents so he needs money for medical treatment.

Online romance scams have crippled the business of many people around the world. According to UK Finance, there was a 20% increase in bank transfer fraud linked to romance scams in 2020 compared to 2019. In another report by UK's Action Fraud, £68 million was lost to such scams in 2020 which is another increase on the previous year.

How to spot a romance scammer:
1. He is deceptive.
2. He hides his real identity.
3. He has few friends or followers on social media.

4. He requests for financial help frequently.
5. He claims to reside in another country.
6. He claims to be wealthy or famous person.
7. He speaks sweet words to the victim every time.
8. He promises to meet the victim in person but gives excuses later.

9. He asks a lot of personal and sensitive questions about the victim.

10. He prefers to communicate with the victim through another channel apart from the dating sites.

Tips to protect yourself from romance scams:
1. Don't be convinced with any profile you see on social media.

2. Don't fall in love quickly with someone you meet online.

3. Ask a lot of personal and sensitive information about him/her.

4. Investigate thoroughly before you send money to anyone you meet online.

5. Be suspicious if your online lover asks of money or gift.

6. Don't discuss personal or sensitive information with someone you meet on social media or dating sites.

7. Avoid posting personal or sensitive information on social media or dating sites.

8. If you fall in love with someone you meet online, don't be in a rush to marry him/her.

9. If you are in love with anyone you meet online, ask of pictures, videos or other documentary evidence to confirm he is real.

10. If you are suspicious of an online relationship, stop all communication and report to appropriate authorities.

Rotimi Onadipe Tel: +234-8169121819 Email: [email protected]