Romance Scams Are On The Rise and Victims Need Support
March 2021 by Cybercrime Support Network
Cyberbullying and Romance Scams were the most visited pages on Cybercrime Support Network’s recovery resource database, FraudSupport.org.
Cybercriminals exploit emotions and stressful situations for financial gain mainly. Thus, romance scams and cyberbullying are reported to be among the most common of cybercrimes. The fact that victims do not always seek help inflates the activity even more.
According to Cybercrime Support Network, romance scams and cyberbullying are the top most visited topics on FraudSupport.org. Meanwhile, Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2019, approximately $201 million were lost due to romance scams - almost 40% more than in 2018.
Kristin Judge, CEO and Founder of Cybercrime Support Network, notes that victims of the aforementioned crimes often remain silent. “Not only are these types of cybercrime common, but can be very emotionally triggering. We understand that it can be difficult for victims of cybercrime to seek help. It’s important to remember that you are not alone.”
Romance scams are often long-term strategies, luring victims into believing they are in a long-distance relationship. The scammer will tell stories of personal financial hardships or medical emergencies. They hope that the victim will feel obligated or willing to help them financially. Scammers are searching for victims on dating sites and apps.
Emotionally Charged Messages are Red Flags
Cybercriminals use social engineering techniques that evoke an emotional act on impulse. Judge says, “Cybercrime and online fraud can affect anyone, at any age, in any profession. If you receive a phone call, email, or text that uses urgent language like ‘act now!’ or ‘respond immediately,’ consider it a red flag.”
As Daniel Markuson, the digital privacy expert at NordVPN, notes, the best thing is to stay informed about the newest scams. “Scammers are always looking out for new ways to lure people into their traps. And yet, emotions and lack of awareness are the universal weakness. Increase of scams surrounding the social turbulence and lockdown nowadays is just another proof of cybercriminals’ use of peoples’ vulnerabilities”.
Markuson advises always to double-check the sender and never download nor click on anything that you are not sure about. Scammers can rush internet users into taking harmful actions by pretending to be friends, family members, or colleagues. If you or someone you know has been impacted by cybercrime, visit FraudSupport.org for free resources.