1. Everyone you encounter is a romance scammer until proven otherwise.
2. A relationship on the internet is not a long-distance relationship but a relationship with an unidentified stranger.
3. Scammers use professions like a soldier, engineer, oil rig worker, and foreign businessperson. These jobs provide an excuse for not being able to meet.
4. All scammers claim their mobile phone camera is broke. It is an excuse to avoid a video call.
5. All scammers claim they are in a poor service area and their video camera will not work.
6. Fake soldiers say they are in restricted/top secret areas and cannot use a video camera.
7. Oil Rig scammers say they cannot use a mobile video because it will cause an explosion.
8. Fake soldiers claim they must pay the military to go on vacation or take leave. It is a lie.
9. If you never met a person in real life, face-to-face you should never send them money.
10. If a person you met on the internet asks for money, they are a fraud.
11. If the person you meet only wants to chat on Google Hangouts or WhatsApp, they are probably a fraud.
12. If a person is shipping you a box with money, gold, or other items, it is a lie. Do not pay the fee.
13. If the person sends you a website of a shipping company, it does not mean the site is real. Anyone can create a fake website.
14. If you are shown a bank account with a high balance, it does not mean it is real. Romance scammers create fake bank websites.
15. If a lawyer contacts you and tells you, they need money for your mate because they have been arrested, it is a lie.
16. If your mate tells you a large piece of machinery broke and he needs a loan. Do not send money; it is a scam.
17. If your lover tells you they are waiting on a payment from a foreign government, it is a lie.
18. Beware of online dating profiles where men claim to be widowers. Scammers love using that profile.
19. Online lovers never have money sent to their name. If they request cash sent to another name, it is a fraud.
20. Because a person sends you a copy of an ID or passport does not mean it is real.
21. The photos sent by the person online does not confirm it is them.
22. A video sent is not proof it is the person you are chatting with; it is a prerecorded video and nothing more.
23. To prove the person you are chatting with is the person in the photos demand a video conversation.
24. A video must be well lit, do the lips move, eyes blink, and ask specific questions. Scammers print out large photos, cut out the mouth and talk through the hole in the picture.
I always say that the best way to protect against a romance scam is to have a face-to-face video. A well-lit video, where the person speaks, their eyes move and have facial expressions.
Recently I revealed to a client that the person she was online dating was a fraud. She did not believe me because when she confronted Romeo with my findings, he had an answer for everything.
I pressed the client to demand a face-to-face video and was surprised that he agreed. After the video, the client was upset at me and stated I was wrong, and he was the man in the photographs. No way, I responded, there is no conceivable way the person she has been chatting with is the same.
The video screen was dark; lover boy claimed the internet was weak, a common excuse. She said his mouth moved while he spoke. Many times, scammers will hold a photo up to the camera and shake it while speaking in the background. Luckily, she took a few screenshots.
I enlarged the photo and noticed a color difference around the mouth. The man, my client, believed she was dating, was a fair-skinned Brit. The mouth was from a dark-skinned person. I uploaded the picture to a website that revealed it was photoshopped. Through my own enlarging and enhancing, I could see the mouth of the photo cut out. Yes, the scammer, cut out the mouth of the picture, held it up to his face and spoke.
The moral of the story is you cannot merely have a face-to-face video. Demand a well-lit location and a secure connection. Observe, did the mouth move, the eyes blink, any facial expressions? Is there anything occurring in the background. Finally, take a screenshot, and play detective is it a picture they sent you.
If you plan to or are currently online dating or app dating, you need to take responsibility for your actions. Because a person tells a story or shares photos, it does not prove their identity. Nor does a copy of a passport. Anything can be faked and forged online.
Frank M. Ahearn educates victims on romance scams.
He is the author of the New York Times Best Seller How to Disappear.
Email Addresss: ID@Scam.Guru