- Wrong Way: Romance scammers typically are located overseas, and don’t have a command of the language local to the victim. When the online conversation is filled with spelling and grammatical errors, the victim should question who’s on the other end.
- Slippery: Another early clue is when the scammer seems slippery about obvious inconsistencies, such as the profile photo not matching the alleged age or ethnicity of the individual on the other end of the online conversation.
- One Way: Scammers like to control the situation, and typically will initiate any contact beyond the online dating site. When a scammer won’t provide his or her contact information or claims he or she doesn’t have a phone, that should raise a red flag.
- Reduced Speed Ahead: Scammers like to move fast, and will profess their love quickly. If the “relationship” seems like it’s moving too fast, then the scammer’s attempted pay-off is probably around the next corner.
- Hazardous Material: The end goal for a scammer is to steal money from the victim, so as soon as the topic of money comes up, end the “relationship.”
According to Garner, consumers should never wire money to someone they don’t know – ever. She advises consumers to keep their hard-earned dollars in their own pockets by following the three Rs – recognize, react, and report.
- Recognize: Savvy consumers should look for red flags when someone asks them to send money through a wire service or money order, because scammers often request these methods knowing that once the money is sent, it cannot be retrieved.
- React: When they identify a scam, consumers should immediately put an end to any transaction or conversation – hang up the phone, delete the email, or end the back-and-forth messaging.
- Report: Report the suspected scam to the local police, and file reports with the Federal Trade Commission, National Consumers League, and Internet Crime Complaint Center (if the suspected fraud was online).