“Tale as old as time, true as it can be” Beauty and the Beast
He tenderly gazes into her eyes as he gently leans in for the kiss, seducing her with his loving attention, her heart beats wildly with anticipation as visions of romance dance in her head.
Sadly though, there won’t be a happily ever after to this story.
This is the world of the love swindler and instead of hearts and forevers this is a tale of heartbreak, financial infidelity and debt beyond her wildest dreams. Or should I say nightmares.
Having recently watched the Tinder Swindler on Netflix, my first thought was what an evil sociopath, my second…. How could an intelligent women be so easily scammed!
And that’s just the thing, being scammed has nothing to do with us and our intelligence. It’s all about the scammer and their unbridled talent for deception.
According the the US Federal Trade Commission victims have reported losing $1.3 billion to romance scams over the last 5 years, and that staggering number is only in the US and includes only those who are willing to report it. Moral of the story NEVER underestimate a scammer, a love one or otherwise!
However being forewarned is forearmed. According to the experts this is what to look out for.
Make a plan to love me
The love swindler creates an attractive fake profile either on a dating site or on some other social media platform.
After connecting with a victim they will start to build their knowledge of their target. And similar to his excited prey who dives into finding everything out that she can about Mr “Too Good To Be True”, so does the love scoundrel, building his knowledge base of what his hapless quarry’s interests may be in order to exploit this knowledge to fake common ground.
To his potential victim he seems to be an amazingly attentive listener, hanging onto every word she says. Because he is. Knowledge is powerful and he wants it.
Some fast love is all he’s got on his mind
The love cad is all about the speed of the catch. Week 2 and he’s either professing his growing love or overcome with the “unexpected” passion he feels for you. Your momentary discomfort at how fast the relationship is moving are put on the backburner as you bask in the focused attention as his plays his love game drawing you further into his dark web.
Somebody that I used to know
Then he simply disappears. The victim is devastated, rapidly falling from the dizzing heights of euphoria to the depths of despair. Questioning what went wrong. What she might have done to alienate him or worse what could have happened to him. Something must have happened because he wasn’t the type to just up and leave……
And just like that, he’s back. Something terrible happened. An accident, a family loss, illness, and all manner of horrible bad luck. But worse, his money is all tied up in a big investment, or his bank account has been hacked and access is currently disabled and he is so embarrassed to ask, and he NEVER does this but could you lend him some money?
While not every story follows this exact trajectory the ending is generally the same. And it’s not the stuff of happy dreams.
Bottom line. Go with your gut. If something feels off exercise caution. Keep your online profile as generic as you can. Don’t list contact details, be protective of who you let in to your social space and keep key personal details out of the more public spaces you may occupy. Get him to show his face on video or in person as soon as you can. And if in person, be very cautious of where you plan to meet him and stick with public spaces. And finally let a request for money be the ultimate red flag no matter how strong the relationship may feel and how much you don’t want to jeopardise what a good thing you’ve found.
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