It sounds like the plot of a cheesy romantic movie: a con artist falls in love with the lady he’s conning. She pursues him and has his life in her hands when she has to decide whether or not to hand him over to the authorities. Sounds like fun, right? Totally impossible too, or is it?
Romance scams are prolific on the many dating apps and sites that you may also be using. The first thing a romance scammer will do is create a web of affection and lies to draw in the person they are trying to con.
So, it may be quite possible that their false love turns into real love. After all, scammers are also human.
A scammer will dive into your whole life, finding every last detail they can use to manipulate you through online platforms and sites, and eventually, scam you out of your hard earned savings.
Scammers Falling in Love: What Are the Odds?
In one of the most comprehensive movies about a scammer falling in love with a person he was scamming, Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men showed just why it is so hard to trust that a scammer is being genuine.
In the movie, he is scammed into believing a girl is his daughter, only to end up really loving her (and falling in love with the idea of having a daughter) to the point that he is scammed out of his own life savings because of love.
The risk is then huge that the scammer who is caught out may use the “I am a fraud, but I have fallen for you” line to either get out of “jail” or scam you even further. How do you know you can trust that a scammer is really in love with you when they profess to be?
It’s quite simple. You can’t.
What Could Make a Scammer Fall for You?
While it’s highly unlikely that a professional scammer can fall in love with their victim, it can happen and here’s why:
There’s a Lot of Communication
Since the scammer is building a relationship (even if it’s a false one) with you, there is a lot of communication between you two. They text you, exchange small tokens, chat all the time, and they may even invite you to visit them in a foreign land or ask that you send them a plane ticket to come visit you.
Quick scams will not extend far enough to really fall in love, but a long scam may just get there. The false relationship may begin to be real to the scammer, just like you probably feel it’s real for you.
They End Up Buying Into the Illusion
The scammer spends so much time building a false or illusionary world where you and they are in a relationship that it may become real to them.
A great scammer may create a world where you are valued and cherished, and since you reciprocate and make them feel valued, they may begin to believe their own fantasy.
The Lure of a White Picket Fence
Let’s face it, most of us want to eventually settle down. While a life of crime has its perks and is certainly exciting, it is also stressful and filled with fear. At some point, the idea of settling down may occur to your scammer.
The scammer looks at your life, and they begin to see themselves as part of that life and start to feel that your reality is more real and desirable than scamming you out of your money.
The Heart Wins the Mind
Scammers may begin to really like the victim they are busy stringing along. They may become so enamored with their victim that their heart starts to dominate their mind.
While they know they are in it for the payoff, they start to develop real feelings for their victim.
Why Love Is the Last Thing on a Scammer’s Mind
While a scammer could fall in love with you, there are several reasons why this is unlikely to happen. For starters, a scammer:
Is a Professional
Going into the scam, the scammer is already preparing to betray you. This is not their first rodeo, and they are geared toward roping you in and taking your money.
They know it’s a game, so they are unlikely to fall for the act. Unlike you, they can see all the pieces of the board, so they are unlikely to be surprised by love.
Chooses a Victim They Won’t Fall for
A scammer is not going to choose a victim that’s their type. Most often, they have no intention of meeting the person they are scamming, and they target widows, lonely middle-aged women, and those who are already victims of abuse.
These are soft targets that they are not likely to respect on a personal level, making the scam a simple business transaction to the scammer.
Is Unlikely to Seek a Relationship They Know Is Doomed
Scammers don’t have any illusions about what they do. They know it is a crime, that they are criminals, and that they aren’t likely to have a normal relationship.
So, while you dream of your scammer actually loving you, they are quite clear that you are a mark, nothing more.
How to Outwit a Scammer and Stop Yourself Falling for Them
Dating online is fun and liberating, and it has a great chance at landing you a great partner. However, there are also great risks involved in dating online.
Dating apps and sites (e.g. 10 Best Online Dating Sites To Suit Specific Goals & Tastes) are often the hunting grounds of scammers. They look for specific types of people who they know they can con out of their money.
Avoid being a scammer’s next victim by following this golden rule.
Do Your Homework
Would you invest your money in an investment portfolio without first finding out more about the investment?
No, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t if you’re smart).
So before you open your wallet or swipe your credit card for a stranger you’ve never met who has been chatting to you on a dating site for a few weeks, do your research.
Find out all you can about their name. Work through their outstanding dating profile, looking for inconsistencies and information you can track. Look at their profile images, finding any landmarks or information you can search in connection with their name.
Keep track of their communication to find any conflicting messages. Remember, scammers often string along more than one victim and may easily confuse their victims and forget their own lies.
Search their profile pictures online to find out if their photos are used anywhere else on the internet. Scammers usually grab photos off someone else’s Facebook or Tinder profile, alter these slightly, then use them as bait in their scam. You can upload the images into a reverse image search program like this one by Digital Inspiration.
With an image search, you can track the original photos, finding out if the photos you thought were of your scammer are actually of someone else.
Never send money or gifts before meeting the person. Scammers don’t like to work in person. They hide in the shadows of the internet.
Asking to meet the person who has been chatting to you is a good way to find out whether they are real. Even a live e-meet via Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts is a good way to sniff out the fraudsters.
Only once you have seen the person you’ve been chatting to in real life and have done your homework to verify they are real and not scammers can you even begin to think you are in a relationship that is real.
Even if you find out they are scamming you, don’t believe it when they say they want to change their ways and that they love you.
The odds are against it, and a relationship built on lies will never last.