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  • Writer's pictureMaria Kolovelonis

Faking it - scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money in Switzerland

Romance Scam - Romance Fraud - Investigation Switzerland
Romance Scam - Romance Fraud - Investigation Switzerland

To find a partner, millions of individuals utilize social networking sites or dating applications. However, many people discover a fraudster instead of romance who is attempting to con them into giving money. Read about the false narratives used by romance scammers and discover the best method to avoid one.

Last year, 24,000 people lost $1 billion to romance scams in the US alone, with many more cases likely going unreported. These scams seriously affect both dating platforms and their users alike. For users, it can mean heartbreak and bankruptcy, as just one successful romance scam can steal millions. For dating platforms, meanwhile, failure to fend off scammers can lead to severe reputational losses.

How romance scams - Romance Fraud work

Scammers pose as potential love partners on dating websites to entice their victims. They fabricate online personas by employing made-up identities or information taken from actual persons.

"Because you can claim to be whomever you want online, this kind of crime is made simple. You may victimize anyone from anywhere in the globe, according to the FBI.

The scam typically works like this:

· The scammer reaches out to a victim on a dating site or on social media.

· They build a seemingly trustworthy relationship.

· The scammer claims to be in some sort of an emergency and asks their digital lover for money.

· Before the fraudster first requests money, they may have courted the victim online for more than six months since they need to reduce their defenses. However, this is the same thing that makes these frauds so successful.

Romance fraudsters frequently surround themselves with proxies who take the form of business colleagues, attorneys, or medical professionals. A well-known con artist from the Tinder Swindler, for instance, had a complete cast of fictitious people working for him, including a wife, child, business partner, and bodyguard. Sometimes a whole gang of organized crooks may get together and pose as a single individual looking for love.

Dating scammers often target vulnerable members of society. For instance, elderly women who are divorced or widowed are usual targets

What are the most typical dating site scams?

In summary, a dating scam usually goes like this: the con artist contacts the victim, establishes a rapport of confidence, and only then demands money. Although this is a common pattern, there are additional online romance scam versions.

· Emergency schemes. The most typical con is this one. Scammers invent a spectacular justification for why they need money, such as that they adopted a kid and are raising them, or that they are being held at a distant border crossing and must now pay for legal representation. Even if these tales can be difficult to believe, con artists control their victims for months in order to get them to accept any falsehood.

· Blackmail. Scammers may request a video call from their victims. They could exert pressure on the victim to undress or engage in other personal behaviors during the conversation. The con artist then asserts that a video recording has been created and threatens to release it unless the victim gives money.

· Money muling. Criminals use other people to transfer illegal payments in this type of money laundering. Scammers might beg to resend precious goods like money, cell phones, or other valuables to their victims. This kind of scam poses a unique threat to the victims' safety since they could unintentionally become involved in the financial activities of a global criminal organization.

· Phishing. Scammers can send phishing links to their victims to steal their personal data. For instance, they can send a link purporting to lead to their social media page. In reality, the link directs to a malware website. Other cases can involve a scammer sending a link asking a victim to “verify their account”. Once the victim clicks, they are requested to submit their name, address, document numbers, and even credit card details. This data can be used to open a bank account or receive a loan under the victim’s name.

· Romance baiting scams. This is a relatively new scheme that involves scammers encouraging victims to participate in an investment opportunity. For instance, scammers can pretend to be financially-independent women and, when asked how they made their fortune, will link to a shady crypto investment scheme. If traditional dating schemes tend to target older people, almost half of all losses to romance baiting scams come from people under the age of 35.

How do you spot a romance scammer?

Romance scammers are experts in social manipulation. They deceive their victims by playing on emotions and creating likable profiles that speak to victims.

· Profile inconsistencies. There can be inconsistencies in scammers’ profiles, i.e., they state that they’re from Canada but write in very poor English.

· Quick love confessions. Romance scammers profess love very quickly, even after just a couple of conversations. They shower the victim with loving words like “you are my angel” and might even strike up conversations about marriage and kids.

· Money requests. After gaining the victim’s trust, they ask for money to pay for a sudden emergency—for insance, a sick relative, funeral costs, business problems, etc. If a victim doesn’t send money straight away, their messages become more desperate, and loving words change to threats.

· Fantastic stories. A scammer’s life can often sound like a soap opera, so it’s not uncommon for them to have some “angry business competitors that want to kill them”.

· Living abroad. Scammers often claim to be traveling or working abroad in order to have an excuse to not meet victims in person.

· Not keeping promises. Scammers always have an excuse for why they can’t travel to meet their victim, why they need more money, or why they can’t pay the money back.

· Making conversations more private. Sometimes scammers suggest moving to a more private chat instead of the dating site to stay under the radar of moderators.

Can you spot a fake dating profile?

It might be challenging to tell real individuals from fraudsters on dating services. Here's a game that will put your abilities to weed out possibly troublesome clients to the test. Keep a check on their personal information because some biographies contain warning signs.

How to avoid online dating scams

Here are a few things that can help avoid falling into an online dating trap.

Always keep in mind that a match might be a scam. To find out if a possible partner is sincere, it's a good idea to look past all the encouraging words and concentrate just on the facts.

· Cross-check. The biographies and images that scammers employ might be copied from other websites and dating accounts. It might be useful to use a search engine to double-check the person's name, picture, and email address.

· Be skeptical of requests for cash or private information. If someone requests money, bank account information, or copies of personal papers, it is the biggest red flag in online dating. Users should keep in mind that con artists can pull this off extremely subtly, for as by asking for a copy of an ID card to purchase an airline ticket on the victim's behalf.

· Ask a reliable individual for counsel, and pay attention to what they say. An expert romantic con artist may attempt to isolate their victim from friends and family or coerce them into taking rash decisions by themselves.

How dating sites may identify and stop romance fraudsters

User verification is a feature that dating companies may use to safeguard their platforms against fraudsters. Although it is not a legal necessity, this can aid in removing undesirable users. How verification might benefit dating sites are as follows:

· Encourage confidence on the platform. If dating services are considered to be free of bots and fraudsters, more people will use them.

· Don't allow account takeovers. Users' accounts and private information won't be taken.

· Boost user interaction. A well-moderated environment discourages toxicity and trolling, which brings in more users.

Since users of dating platforms aren’t always familiar with verification, the process should be as smooth as possible in order to avoid scaring them away. Also, users might have concerns about the safety of data they submit during the procedure, which is why modern verification solutions store data on secure servers and protect it from unauthorized usage.

Here are four features that can help reduce fraud while keeping the conversion rates high.

· ID document verification—Security features and anti-photoshop checks help to ensure document validity. Platforms can also set age limits to keep underaged users out.

· Liveness and face match—Biometric checks ensure that the true document holder is present during verification and can detect multiple accounts.

· Behavioral fraud patterns detection—Device fingerprint analysis tracks suspicious user configurations, locations and IP address mismatches. This allows detecting if multiple people use one account, as scammers often do.

· Face authentication—This feature asks users to verify their identity when suspicious activity is detected, ensuring that their account hasn’t been stolen.

This kind of thorough verification may identify face spoofers, people with stolen personal information, papers that have been altered or are invalid, and other crooks in about 50 seconds.

How to report an online dating scammer

When a fraudster is reported, the platform may decide to block them and stop any further activity. A short approach to reporting fraudsters is provided below:

· When to contact a dating site. It is sufficient for a user to report a profile to the platform with their concerns if they believe it to be a fraud.

· the right time to inform a financial institution. The user should immediately get in touch with their bank, lending company, or any other pertinent financial institution, as well as alerting the dating platform, if they have disclosed any financial information to someone they met on a dating website.

· When to report to an authority. It’s always a good idea to report scams to law enforcement or other government institutions responsible for fraud detection to stop the scammer from fooling other victims.

Please share this guide with other users of dating platforms so they don’t fall prey to romance scammers.

The victims of fraud should contact us to conduct a Investigation & Asset Recovery. We are private investigation firm with 85+ years of management experience.

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