Romance scam impact is greater than most people imagine. The direct victims grow every year, especially within senior citizens. According to the latest annual report from Internet Crime Complaint Center in the U.S., over 18,000 people reported being victim of romance fraud in 2018, with losses accounting more than USD $362 million. But, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as it is estimated that only 10% of scam and fraud victims report their cases to law enforcement or the ICC.
Not only are there a lot more than those who report, but there are thousands of indirect victims that nobody is talking about: families. “Frequently, the people who contact us for an investigation are relatives of the suspected victim, who are worried for their safety and well-being,” says John Wallace, Director of International Background Checks at Wymoo International. The cases of daughters, sons, ex-spouses and friends that hire a professional to conduct an online dating verification for a loved one are increasing by the day. Most of them are extremely concerned because the victims have been manipulated to a point where they do not longer listen to close relatives or friends. Those who witness the situation without being emotionally involved are able to see the red flags clearly, while the direct victim has been blinded by the scammer and their trail of lies and deceit.
How families are affected by romance scam
Relatives often feel powerless in the face of romance scams. Most victims of a crime go to the police for help, but not victims of a romantic fraud. They are often too embarrassed (or too invested in the fantasy) to talk about what’s going on, and that can make it difficult for family members to stop it.
It is not easy to see a loved one being consumed by a farce. Romance scam can push victims to a point where they have lost all their hard earned money, homes, etc. Furthermore, when victims realize what has happened to them, they fall in deep depressions and their families will have to face the health issues derived from depression, as well as the financial consequences. As far-fetched as it may seem, a lot of the victims have even taken out large loans to help their fake online partner, leaving them with debts they cannot take care of and that their family members will have to take over, or even worse with serious legal consequences for being part of a money laundering scam scheme.
What to do if you suspect a loved one is being victim to a romance scam
Sometimes we do not address the matter in the best possible way. Some people try to open the victims eyes by letting them know how obvious a scam it is, or emphasizing on how they can’t believe the victim does not see the red flags. Usually, this is the wrong approach because victims will feel attacked and they will avoid talking about the matter or telling you important information.
If you are really concerned about the situation, let your loved one know your concern without judging. Start by asking more about the person they are dating, who they are, what do they do for a living, where they live, how old are they, etc. Try getting as much information as you can. Once you have a clear picture, you can tell them your concern and suggest having an unbiased and professional third party investigate the situation. Hiring a private investigation firm to conduct a discreet and confidential dating background check can clear your doubt and theirs, and keep you safe.
Do not wait for too long. Everyone who is dating online should know that verifying is a smart thing to do given the high risk, and the best option is to check their partner out as soon as the relationship begins. Let your loved one know how investigating can help them stay safe and avoid fraud.
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