During the long-term romance scam, scammers build trust with a victim over the years. The scammer is a non-committal pen pal, friendly chat buddy—Unlike the common quick-hit, grab-and-dash love scam. This scammer is essentially a long-term catfisher.
The payoff? Thousands of dollars are bilked from the victim.
But before that, the scammer moves slowly. Suddenly, he advances the relationship to the romance level. It could take a year or more. Love blossoms. Late-night conversations begin. The victim follows the scammer on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp. In addition, the scammer has online friends. It’s for real. And no one has spoken about money.
Inevitably, the scammer asks for money from their love interests. “So why not?” you ask. “I’ll help you. We will fix this together. We’re in love.” How can someone you’ve known for months or years be fake? Furthermore, you’ve read their profile and chatted online for five hours a day!
Avoid long-term romance scams
First, trace unknown numbers. Online websites make it easy to trace unknown numbers. You can verify if the person is genuine.
The second thing to watch out for is acceleration. The scammer is in a hurry. They panic. Although they wanted the relationship to end, the scammer couldn’t wait to see you a day earlier. Acceleration is to confuse you. When we are confused, we often make quick decisions. For example, we might decide to give the scammer money.
Third, the person says they live or work in another country. Scammers claim they are in another part of the world. Because of the location, face-to-face meetings are impossible.
Fourth, listen to your gut and ask if the online romance is real? Be honest.
Fifth, stop feeling ashamed. Speak with a trusted friend or family member. If you are experiencing love butterflies, a friend or family member may offer life-saving insight.
Contact the Fraud Reporting System (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre) or call toll-free at 1-888-495-8501. Using the online complaint form, you can also file a misleading or deceptive marketing report with the Competition Bureau.