Romance Scam: Detection & Defense Strategy

    Losses from romance scams amounted to $956 million in 2021, and they are considered one of the most expensive frauds in terms of victim losses. Can we avoid scammers these days? We decided to plunge into this topic and have some pivotal information on how romance scams work.

    What are romance scams?

    Romance scams are commonly referred to as “catfishing,” a situation where a scammer uses online dating websites, social networks, and other online platforms and pretends to be someone interested in a romantic relationship with you to deceive or exploit their victims. There are also some other types of romance scams:

    • Pro-daters – a fraudster is a real person who communicates with you and even arranges dates (usually in his country) to exploit you financially.
    • Blackmail – is a way of extortion related to your explicit photos or videos that you may have shared with the scammer during communication.

    All fraudulent schemes lead to the same result––obtaining money from victims by all possible means. Regardless of how many types of scams there are, it’s crucial to know what romance scams are and how to spot and avoid scammers when you use online dating sites.

    How do romance scams work?

    Depending on the type of scam, there are different ways to provide it. Nevertheless, the main principle is to establish trusted relationships with victims and solicit money through all possible means.

    A scam strategy lasts from several weeks to months and even years. Everything depends on the scammer’s ambitions and the amount of money he wants to exploit from you.

    A typical scenario of online romance scams is the following:

    1. A single man or woman initiates a conversation with you on any dating platform.
    2. Scammer strikes you with regular messages and long conversations.
    3. He/she always asks many questions to learn more about you, which seems to be sincere.
    4. For some time of regular communication, you’ll get some requests for financial help, particularly with emergency issues, trip tickets, or other things, depending on the context of your relationships.
    5. When the scammer gets as much money from you as he/she expected, you will be left disappointed and heartbroken, or you can reveal the scam.

    In any case, you will be in a pathetic situation if you can’t recognize the fraudster and how romance scams work at the beginning of the con. For this reason, we have researched and prepared a classic description of an online scammer for you.

    The red flags of online romance scammers

    Romance scams are quite prevalent, so there are ready-made instructions and schemes that fraudsters use to attract their victims. The main thing is to create an appropriate dating profile and provide victims with enough attention to gain their trust. So, a typical scammer on dating sites is:

    • A person with no completed profile but 1-2 high-quality photos
    • Profile pictures usually depict the face only, without any other details
    • All information related to interests, marital status, income, etc., will be absent or hidden
    • The scammer will act dynamically with you, bombarding you with questions and compliments
    • Swindlers often want to communicate via emails or instant messages, not the dating website
    • Your interlocutor will claim that you have lots of things in common, including hobbies and traits
    • After a few conversations, you can get a marriage proposal or a declaration of love
    • An online scammer never has an opportunity to meet you in real life and, in most cases, avoid video conversations

    Generally, you will feel happiness and satisfaction from this communication, as scammers always act as caring and supportive partners who are attached to your personality no matter what. However, it is disappointing to realize that there is nothing in common with sincerity, just a strategy to catch your trust.

    So now you know the general appearance of a scammer, and it is essential to be familiar with the ways to avoid romance scams.

    How to avoid romance scams?

    If you are familiar with what are romance scams, the next question is how to avoid them online. Fortunately, the FBI and IC3 act appropriately, and there are many hacks and tips to act safely on the internet and online dating websites. So, the step-by-step instruction is the following:

    1. Choose a reputable international dating website, like with an appropriate security system and anti-scam policy.
    2. Become a premium member for more advanced security measures.
    3. Use the safe mode and communicate only with identified users (they are marked as verified on the dating platforms).
    4. Avoid chatting with people who have poor profiles with no photos and no information.
    5. Check users’ photos in search to ensure they are not taken from public sources or used elsewhere.
    6. Don’t share any critical information related to your social media, phone number, and more with the interlocutor in the first conversation.
    7. Keep things slow and communicate with each person for some time to get to know each other better.
    8. Request video conversation to ensure the person is real.
    9. Never send money to any person on dating websites or social media networks.

    We are sure if you follow these tips, you’ll protect yourself from swindlers. Remember to be detail-oriented and act appropriately if you see something malicious during your conversation with users on dating sites. Likewise, if you want to know what to do if you are already involved in a scam, read the following chapter.

    What should you do if you’re already involved in a scam?

    There is no doubt that scammers are improving their skills and techniques, so there is still a chance of falling for a romance scam. So you should know what to do in this situation.

    • First and foremost, if you receive inappropriate messages from scammers, block them and report them to a dating site’s customer support.
    • If you have already fallen for your scammer and sent him some money, gift cards, crypto transactions, etc., contact your bank or the company as soon as possible.
    • Finally, if you suspect romance scams, report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) by indicating the website or app where you met a scammer.

    It is no wonder that you believed in the sincerity of the scammer, as many of them are professionals. But it is critical to act quickly if you find yourself in an insecure situation.


    Now that you are aware of what romance scams are and how to detect them, we hope this firsthand experience and information from reputable sources will be valuable. Regardless of the situation, make sure you do everything to protect yourself from any potential scam. However, we are confident that you can find genuine connections on dating sites if you act with your safety in mind.

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