SCAM NEWS: Love During The Covid-19 Lockdown – Romance Scams Rise As Online Dating Explodes
As millions of people get hooked on online dating, romance scams numbers are estimated to explode. This has become a very common form of fraud that has spread throughout the world along with the development of social media like Facebook Dating.
For example, extra-marital dating app Gleeden has crossed 10 million users in India alone during the COVID-19 lockdown while dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have gained immense popularity – some doubling their users in just five months.
According to researchers from the University of Siena and Scotte University Hospital led by Dr. Andrea Pozza, they have identified that via a fictitious Internet profile, the scammer develops a romantic relationship with the victim for 6-8 months (or potentially more), building a deep emotional bond to extort economic resources in a manipulative dynamic.
“There are two notable features: on the one hand, the double trauma of losing money and a relationship, on the other, the victim’s shame upon discovery of the scam, an aspect that might lead to underestimation of the number of cases,” the authors wrote in a paper published in the journal Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health.
Over 10,000 dating sites/chats platforms have been created over the last decade in North America alone. In the UK, 23 percent of Internet users have met someone online with whom they had a romantic relationship for a certain period and even 6 percent of married couples met through the web according to the study.
“The online dating industry has given rise to new forms of pathologies and crime, said the authors.
The results showed that 63 percent of social media users and 3 percent of the general population reported having been a victim at least once.
63 Percent OF SOCIAL MEDIA USERS SURVEYED SAID THEY HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF A ROMANCE SCAM!
Women, middle-aged people, and individuals with higher tendencies to anxiety, romantic idealization of affective relations, impulsiveness, and susceptibility to relational addiction are at higher risk of being victims of the scam.
“Online romance scams are, in other words, relationships constructed through websites for the purpose of deceiving unsuspecting victims in order to extort money from them.”
The scammer always acts empathetically and attempts to create the impression in the victim that the two are perfectly synced in their shared view of life.
“The declarations of the scammer become increasingly affectionate and according to some authors, a declaration of love is made within two weeks from initial contact,” the study elaborated.
After this hookup phase, the scammer starts talking about the possibility of actually meeting up, which will be postponed several times due to apparently urgent problems or desperate situations such as accidents, deaths, surgeries or sudden hospitalizations for which the unwitting victim will be manipulated into sending money to cover the momentary emergency.
Using the strategy of “testing-the-water”, the scammer asks the victim for small gifts, usually to ensure the continuance of the relationship, such as a giftcard or other monetary gift, which, if successful, leads to increasingly large sums of money.
When the money arrives from the victim, the scammer proposes a new encounter.
An So Goes The Cycle Of Promise, Extraction, And Re-Promise.
The request for money can also be made to cover the travel costs involved in the illusory meeting. In this phase, the victim may start having second thoughts or showing doubt about the intentions of the partner and gradually decide to break off the relationship.
“In other cases, the fraudulent relationship continues or even reinforces itself as the victim, under the influence of ambivalent emotions of ardor and fear of abandonment and deception, denies or rationalizes doubts to manage their feelings,” said the study.
In some cases, the scammer may ask the victim to send intimate body photos that will be used as a sort of implicit blackmail (sextortion) to further bind the victim to the scammer.
Once the scam is discovered, the emotional reaction of the victim may go through various phases: feelings of shock, anger or shame, the perception of having been emotionally violated (a kind of emotional rape), loss of trust in people, a sensation of disgust towards oneself or the perpetrator of the crime and a feeling of mourning. These are signs of trauma that should be taken seriously.
“Understanding the psychological characteristics of victims and scammers will allow at-risk personality profiles to be identified and prevention strategies to be developed,” the authors suggested.
SCARS has been studying the situation and roles or relationships of the scammer and their victims since its founding. SCARS offers extensive information about scams and scammers, the psychology of scams, and the recovery from the trauma they induce on our website www.RomanceScamsNOW.com and our social media pages and groups.
We strongly encourage all victims to read about how this happened to them and seek help in recovering emotionally from their trauma.
TAGS: Scams, Scammers, Scam News, SCARS, Romance Scams, Blackmail, Sextortion, Scammers, Romance Scammers, Scam Victims, Scam Trauma, Traumatized Victims, Psychology of Scams
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How Do You Properly Report Scammers?
It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.
Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:
- Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance [use caution, not advisable in all countries]
- Your National Police or FBI «www.IC3.gov» OR from within the U.S. «tips.FBI.gov»
- The Scars Worldwide Reporting Network «HERE» or on «www.Anyscam.com» [available anywhere]
This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.
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