Romance Scams Are on the Increase in Florida - How Can You Avoid Being Ripped-Off While Online Dating?

Toby Hazlewood

Scammers stole over $300m in 2020

Online dating can be hard at the best of times, but in recent years it was even more difficult to meet people in person. Those looking for love were left with few options other than to resort to online dating via apps such as Tinder.

A report published in February has highlighted that so-called 'romance scams' are on the increase, and in 2020 over $300 million was lost by those who fell victim to deception and fraud. This was up by $100 million over the scams reported in 2019. Alarmingly, Florida has seen more than its share of such fraud.

The recent hit Netflix series - 'The Tinder Swindler' - demonstrates that romance frauds and deceptions are unfortunately rather common these days.

Scammers looking to steal more than just your heart

Romance scams typically involve a person using a fake identity to convince another person that they are in a romantic relationship with each other. The scammer then uses this fake relationship to persuade the victim to part with money or personal information that can be exploited for financial gain.

Central Florida Bail Bonding of Orlando offers these indications of possible fraudulent activity:

  • The scam artist may claim to live far away so they are unable to meet in person
  • Scammers may falsify their profile so that it matches up with the victims interests
  • Scam artists are known to use sob stories such as that they need money to pay a medical bill, a gambling debt or to handle a family emergency

While these may seem like obvious red flags to the onlooker, when people are vulnerable and looking for love, and believe they may have found someone who loves them, it's often easy to overlook things that would seem obvious.

This is exactly what scammers rely upon. A Maryland woman was trying to recover $100k sent to a man she met online claiming to be from Sarasota - for people to send such vast sums of money to people they don't really know, demonstrates how completely people can be fooled.

The problem could be a lot bigger too

It also seems that not all those who fall victim to such scams are inclined to report it.

Independent studies carried out by reveal that only 1 in 3 people who are scammed financially will go as far as reporting it. David McClellan of the website offered this explanation:

“People feel dumb, they’re embarrassed, and they don’t want their family and other people to know and so there is significantly more people getting scammed and they’re just not reporting it.”

Be cautious and go slowly

The advice for those who are new to online dating, or keen to avoid being the next victim of a romance scam is pretty simple:

  • Go slowly and avoid giving up personal information too soon (like your phone number or email address)
  • Look out for odd behaviours from those you meet, such as them not being able to meet in person or being unwilling to video chat
  • Never send money to an unknown person without being certain of who they are and what their motives may be.

But also, don't give up on finding love - just keep your wits about you!

Have you ever been deceived by someone while dating? Have you fallen victim to a scam through online dating? Let me know in the comments section below.

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