It reads like a novel confessing to the scams played out by cyber creeps. Their sinister goal is to take a kind-hearted person down the path of deception with their clever misdeeds.
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You can learn a lot from this brave gal Margaret in Watertown MA who writes in sharing her experience of getting tricked and trapped into an online scam.
The funniest scammers contact me through FB, Instagram, and Tinder.
They promise love, sex, and marriage, offer cryptocurrency to pay my bills, and promise that [they] will let me take care of their children – because I’m so kind and loving – if I only agree to receive a very large wire transfer from the ME
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They explain that they are Generals on a “Peacekeeping Mission for the UN, “that they are US Naval commanders currently overseas, that they are USAF soldiers currently based in Turkey on a USAF base and oddly enough they aren’t being paid.
So, could I please send money right away? These scammers swipe US military servicemen’s photos to impress you with their looks, … ( I was shown a photo of a handgun in an Armory with a soldier’s US Army Uniform Sarn’t insignia.) Pictures of their injuries which looked authentic.
I’m a nurturing woman – I don’t like to see people hurt and abandoned so I fell for their scam. They were multi-lingual and had elaborate explanations describing how they were in a real jam and needed that wire transfer or Western Union payment right away.
They were extremely charming: romantic, attentive, empathetic, sweet, loving, and funny when I kept those gift cards coming. They sent me goofy emojis. They showed up with vans possibly ready to move in or maybe to abduct me – that was hard to discern – the motive.
I exchanged so many texts with them- they had communicated with me so much that I was flattered.
I was wooed in French, Arabic, German, and Spanish via text or the chat room they had set up, which I hoped was private, but Privacy online really doesn’t exist.
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I knew I was being played but was so lassoed into the multi-layered pleasure of helping someone else, receiving their thanks, and then being told that they loved me.
My Mom, who was Valedictorian of her High School class, instantly knew it was BS. She sneeringly pointed that out and her doubt increased my anger which then set the stage for me to be mollified by my Online Romeo.
I realized it was a team of scammers and I saw them. They began showing up at the local lakes I went to. They were easy to spot.
That is weirdness. It happened to me, and I advise my sister women to not be hoodwinked by their charm. ” Only The Lonely Can Play. “
– Margaret, Watertown, MA
Thank you for being brave enough to share your warning with others. These types of scams are all too common, and I’m sorry that Margaret fell for these evil people’s tricks when she was only trying to help.
Let’s go over some red flags to watch out for when you’re being scammed.
How can I avoid being scammed like this?
First off, romance scams are super common, as I have previously mentioned in this article. According to the FTC, looking for love in all the wrong places got nearly 70,000 people ripped off by a romance scam in 2022, just like what happened to Margaret. As you can see above, a scammer will go above and beyond to get money out of you, and they will stop at nothing once you start engaging with them.
Here’s what to look out for.
Lying about a profession
Certain professions are commonly used as cover-ups among scammers. These are some of the most popular ones:
- Works on an oil rig
- Doctor in an international organization
- Construction worker abroad
- ‘Top secret’ government position
I’m not exactly sure why they go with these. However, it’s likely because these positions typically reflect personality traits like selflessness, honor, and bravery, so why would someone like that want to steal from you?
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They make you outrageous promises
If you’ve never met someone in person and only know information about them based on what they’ve told you online, then it should be a huge red flag if they’re offering to take care of your family, pay your bills, or do any other outrageously generous act. Some people don’t get this much help from their lifelong friends, so a stranger online certainly should not be offering it to you, especially if they’re asking for money in exchange.
Money in the form of gift cards
Gift cards are a super common way for scammers to ask for money because they are not traceable. A payment with a credit or debit card is something that could be traced back to the scammer and would get them into legal trouble, so they opt for something more discreet. Do not even send gift cards to anyone you’ve never met.
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Refusing to video chat
If a person you’re speaking to online is legit, then there’s no reason why they can’t video chat with you, whether it be through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or some other platform. If they’re refusing to show you their face, then they’re probably impersonating someone else.
They ask for personal information
Again, you should never be giving any personal information to someone online, especially if you only just started conversing with them. A scammer may try to trick you by saying super nice things, however, if you’ve only just started speaking with them, then it’s likely they’re just trying to sweet-talk you so that you give them what they want.
They may also ask you for other personal information like your mother’s maiden name or the street you grew up on. This could be them trying to guess the correct information on security questions that protect your banking information. Don’t fall for it.
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What should you do if you think you’ve been scammed?
Report the scammer
If you think you’re a victim of scamming, go to the FTC’s website here and report the scammer. The steps for reporting a scam are straightforward, and the FTC will send out alerts to law enforcement immediately to help with investigating the scammers. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau and file a report with them 24/7.
Contact your bank
If you sent money to the scammer and want to get it back, you should immediately reach out to your bank or credit/debit card company and report it as fraud. The representatives will then walk you through the steps of how to get your money reimbursed.
Contact the gift card company
If you sent a gift card to the scammer, make sure you keep the receipt for the gift card and report the scam to the gift card company. The representatives there may be able to help you, and it will also help them be aware of scammers using their gift cards for fraud.
If you gave out any personal information like a social security number, follow the steps at IdentityTheft.gov. You’ll be able to make a report there and the website will help come up with a recovery plan for you and walk you through each step of gaining your identity back.
Use Identity theft protection
If you want a service that will walk you through every step of the identity theft reporting and recovery process, you should consider an identity theft service.
Identity Theft companies can monitor personal information like your Social Security Number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. The great part of an identity theft company like my #1 pick is that you’re provided with your own personal case manager that will help you recover any losses.
See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by visiting CyberGuy.com/IdentityTheft .
Have good antivirus software on all your devices
This story is also another reminder to always have good antivirus software running on your devices, as romance scams can also entail email and text communications asking the victim to click a link. Having antivirus software on your devices will make sure you are stopped from clicking on any potential malicious links that may be sent in any of your emails or text messages.
See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices by visiting CyberGuy.com/LockUpYourTech.
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By reporting when you’ve been scammed, you can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam. Even though your heart can get caught up ahead of your thinking process, remember if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Any red flags from scammers that I may have missed? Let us know by writing us at CyberGuy.com/Contact .
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