Thousands of people use dating apps or websites to meet people, and who knows, find a romantic relationship. This increasingly widespread practice is very convenient for users, as it allows them to contact many people quickly, easily and from anywhere. However, this practice is not overlooked by cybercriminals, who take advantage of these platforms and their users’ overconfidence when it comes to looking for potential victims to scam

How does this scam work?

Romance Fraud is a type of fraud aimed at taking advantage of the victim's feelings and trust as the main way of convincing, deceiving and scamming them for large amounts of money.

The modus operandi is as follows: 

  • The cybercriminal creates false profiles in dating apps and websites with photos and descriptions that draw the user's attention.
  • Interest is then established, and the cybercriminal and victim initiate a conversation.
  • For days, weeks and even months, the cybercriminal slowly gains the potential victim's trust and seduces them. The cybercriminal usually adopts a profession that draws attention, such as a soldier, oilfield operator, sea captain, humanitarian doctor, and so on.
  • A remote relationship is initiated. Most commonly, this relationship starts without seeing each other, but there is a promise of meeting soon.
  • The cybercriminal asks the victim to send them money so they can travel to meet the victim or because a serious problem has arisen. The victim is completely fooled and proceeds to send the requested money. Sometimes, the money requested even makes the victim get into debt with their bank.
  • Once the cybercriminal receives an amount of money they deem appropriate or sees that they cannot continue with the scam, they proceed to cut off all communication with the victim

What security measures should you follow to avoid falling prey to this type of fraud?

CaixaBank makes the following security recommendations to minimise your risk of becoming a victim of romance fraud:

  • Do not be too confident, use common sense and do not rush things.
  • Check the profiles in dating apps or websites. Pay attention and be suspicious of recently created profiles and/or those with photographs that look like an advertisement.
  • Be wary of hasty situations, emergencies or strange pretexts in which money is requested.
  • Do not provide confidential information to third parties.

What should you do if you are a victim of fraud?

If you are a victim of this type of fraud, you should:

  • Inform your bank about the fraud as quickly as possible.
  • Report the incident to the police.
  • Save all the details and information relating to the advertisement and the contacts established with the alleged seller, as they may be required while the case is being investigated. 
  • Report the profile in the app or website, so the user's account is cancelled.