News Flash

The Safety Zone

Posted on: January 13, 2023

January Safety Zone, by Cpl. Mike Johnson

Johnsonnew

 

Often, when taking a report of romance scam, I wonder where it all began. How did this happen? How could this person be so naive? These are very smart and successful people. Did they not pick up on any of the clues? Then I must remember that I was not the one “in love” with this so-called person and threw caution to the wind. Love can make you do some things you wish you could take back, but unfortunately, getting money back from a romance scam is not one of them.

Romance scams or online dating scams happen far too often and are increasing every year. All someone has to do is create a fictitious profile, create the scenario or fantasy like a steamy romance novel, put the bait on a hook and cast it out.

 Now, just wait and see who bites.

According to the FTC, $547 million dollars was taken from people in 2021. That’s an 80% percent increase from 2020. These scammers are skilled and often have all the answers to keep you on the hook after you swallow the bait.

The scammers will meet their targets on popular dating sites or use other major platforms like Instagram or Facebook. They will take their chat to a more personal setting. They usually portray themselves to be in the military or a contract worker out of the country – a  perfect cover for not being able to meet in person. They lead someone to believe they are in a “dangerous place” and can’t talk, so they will contact you when they can get through. Their goal is to make the person believe the situation they are in is incredibly dangerous and to gain your trust as quickly as possible.

They will send a picture of a handsome guy in in battle uniform just trying to “survive” so they can get home to you as soon as possible and you both can live out your dream life together with all the millions he’s made overseas. Sounds incredible…right? Once the romance begins, the scammer will use the word “baby” or “sweetie” with each sentence. You will get more pictures. There will be firefights in the middle of the night where they have been called to defend the base and they just wanted to say they love you one last time in case they don’t make it. Then you won’t get another text for a couple of days, until they notify you finally, after you have been waiting to know what happened. They tell you they were wounded, but they thought of you and your love, and it pulled them through. They had the will to live because you loved them!

As crazy as this may sound, it’s all a part of the grooming process. The scammer then will say they lost their weapon in battle and it needs to be replaced before their command finds out, and will ask the target if they can help, because they get paid next month and they don’t have access to their millions in the bank. Of course, by this point, you are more than happy to help out and give them whatever they need by wiring money outside the country, or better yet, you could get gift cards and send them the codes.

But wait there’s more: If you could provide their bank account number and PIN, that will make everything easier and because you love each other, it makes perfect sense!! Right?

No, it doesn’t make sense because it’s NOT REAL.

People usually find out the harsh reality after their bank account has been drained and they are out thousands of dollars. The sad truth is this scam can happen to anyone that falls for it, but widows and widowers are especially vulnerable. The damage is real. The loss of hard-earned money is real. The sad reality is the target just sent their money overseas, normally to women who are skilled in romance scams. The phone numbers are Google numbers where a computer is used and can’t be traced.

The scenario for this scam is just one of many, but they all have the same thing in common. They seek you out. You can’t meet them or talk to them. They can’t video chat. The conversations will have broken English or unfamiliar phrases. They use pre-written texts to tell you about themselves. The pictures sent are found online and are located for who you are looking far. This information usually comes from the target’s information or profile.

People want to find love.  Nothing wrong with that!

Just know that finding love online comes with extreme risks. Never give out personal information, bank information, send gift cards, or give out your location. Verify who you are talking to and if you can’t, walk away and report any suspicious activity. Guard your heart and your bank account.

Facebook Twitter Email