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Romance Scams & How To Avoid Them

  • By Southridge Technology

Everybody gets lonely sometimes, but that need to interact with people can be used to prey upon you as well. Take Deirdre for example. Deirdre was a middle-aged woman who recently lost her husband to cancer. She spent most of her free time visiting friends and family until she got into a car accident that broke her leg. Suddenly, Deirdre was stuck at home, forced to wait for company to come to her. This took a toll on her, so she turned her attention to the internet.

            She joined a Facebook group for one of her favorite tv shows and began seeing the same man over and over again. His name was Colin and it turned out that they had a lot in common. They both loved hiking, crocheting, and watching hockey. On days when Deirdre was feeling lonely, she would talk with Colin for hours over chat. Soon, she discovered romantic feelings for her online friend that were reciprocated, and life seemed grand. Colin told Deirdre how badly he wanted to visit her. Unfortunately, he lived on the other side of the country and couldn’t afford the plane ticket. Deirdre offered to buy it for him, but he claimed that he knew a guy who could help him out as long as she wired him the money for the ticket. Without even thinking, she sent several hundred dollars to Colin. She never asked to call him. She never asked to video chat with him. She never heard from him again.

            Deirdre was the victim of a romance scam. A cybercriminal used her loneliness against her to steal her hard-earned money. They used her public social media profiles to convince her that they had a lot in common and her limited Internet knowledge to make sure she didn’t catch on. In a world where our lives are becoming more and more digitized, romance, and other relationship scams, are becoming more prevalent. It’s no longer taboo to meet a friend online and never see them in person. Services like Venmo and Cashapp make it easier than ever to wire money. Cybercriminals know all this and use it to their advantage.

            Deirdre survived being scammed and went on to find solace in real friends, but what could she have done to stop this from happening? For one, she could’ve kept her social media private so only those following her can access her posts. Even if she preferred to keep it public, she could limit the amount of personal information she shared online by thinking about the consequences before posting. She also should have followed the golden rule of wiring money online: never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. It’s as simple as that.

            This is all a hypothetical situation, but something similar can happen to you. Romance scams are vicious and take advantage of us at our most vulnerable. There are ways to stay safe and if you follow them, you won’t end up like Deirdre.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have fallen for one of these scams, look into organizations that provide support for victims such as law enforcement agencies, consumer protection offices and national charities that specialize in aiding for people affected by these fraudulent acts. Southridge Technology is here for you. If you need help locking down your devices, or are looking for some protection, reach out to us at (203) 431-8324 or send us an email at support@southridgetech.com to find the best solution for you.