Fraudsters wait for victims on the Internet to deceive them via “romance scams” or “love scams” and make them believe they are in a close, romantic relationship to scam money from the victims. The KFV warns against such scams.
Armin Kaltenegger, head of property protection at KFV (Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit), shed light on this form of online fraud Thursday evening using a study.
Love Scams: Warning against marriage scams on the Internet
Online dating sites and social media would offer cyber criminals an ideal platform for their machinations. Through clever deception, they build up a close relationship with their victims within a very short time. Women would be courted primarily by supposed military personnel, doctors or single, widowed salespeople, while men are often contacted by young women who appear to need help. In all cases, these are fake identities. “What initially looks like love and romance quickly turns into a dangerous situation in which the scammers use clever tactics to exert pressure and harass their victims,” says Kaltenegger.
Scammers present themselves to victims as a seemingly perfect person
In the first phase, a seemingly perfect person presents himself to the victim, establishes contact, and devotes himself intensively to his counterpart. After that, the relationship begins – but only online. In addition to texting, there may even be (video) calls. The perpetrator also announces a personal visit. What is striking here is that everything happens very quickly and is driven by the perpetrator (love bombing).
Perpetrators urgently demand money in the third phase
In the third phase, an alleged catastrophe occurs, which is why the perpetrator urgently needs money (an apparent accident, the military does not approve the vacation, one is already in the vicinity but is stuck at customs…), usually shortly before the alleged first meeting. Typical and striking is that only and exclusively the victim is the only salvation.
This is followed by a continuous loop of money demands
This is followed by a constant loop in which the young happiness seems to be constantly threatened – by illnesses, debts or arrests. More financial “support” is demanded. There may also be blackmail – if intimate pictures were shared in advance – or threats to end the relationship if no more financial support arrives.
The cheater disappears without a trace in the final phase
The final phase occurs when the scam victim can no longer want to pay, after which the scammers disappear without a trace. Profiles are deleted, and cell phone numbers suddenly lead nowhere.
Shift toward digital partner search
The results of the KFV study show a remarkable shift toward digital dating. Young men under 30 have an exceptionally high risk of falling for a “love scam.” They are increasingly using dating apps and frequently accept contact requests from strangers. This trend opens a gateway for scammers and poses a potential danger to users.
Love scams are already known to 88 percent of respondents
Love scams are already known to 88 percent of respondents, yet one-fifth worry little or nothing about becoming victims. Scammers have already contacted one in five, while five percent have transferred money. The average financial loss amounts to 400 euros. Only very few would have filed a complaint afterwards.
- source: vienna.at/picture:
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