The number of internet love scams in Singapore has been on the rise, with 822 cases reported in the year 2020. Such scams had increased by more than ten-fold since 2013. People who are looking for love online, however, need to be extra cautious because searching for true love may leave you emotionally vulnerable. Such vulnerability can be abused in a love scam intended to take your money. Think this won’t happen to you? Think again.
In this article, we take a look at some love scam victims in Singapore, how they fell prey, and how you can avoid the same mistakes by spotting the signs of a love scam.
WHAT IS AN INTERNET LOVE SCAM?
After befriending an attractive person (who is usually foreign) online, he or she tells a tale about falling into trouble or hard times. The scammer persists with the story to gain their victim’s trust and adoration, then asks for money as proof of love. Once the money is transferred, the scammer disappears.
How to Spot a Love Scam?
Victims often overlooked the red flags of a love scam because they are blinded by the feeling of adoration and the expectation of a future relationship. Some of these red flags include:
– A fake profile featuring a very attractive and/or successful person.
– The scammer constantly chatting with you and showing affection towards you.
– They want a relationship with you even though you never met them in real life.
– They tell tales of hardship that requires some financial help from you.
– Even if the other party is looking for true love online, asking for money is one of the greatest relationship deal breakers. So, beware!
What You Should Look Out For:
– Professes their undying love very quickly after making contact with you
– Goes to great lengths to gain your interest and trust with loving words and even offers to send you gifts
– Gives excuses whenever you ask for a video call
What You Should Do:
– Do not send money to anyone you have not met in person
– Verify the identity of the person you are talking to with an online image search, here: https://images.google.com/
– Always ask for a LIVE video call with the person
It’s not wrong to chat with strangers online. But in today’s overly-connected digital world, you have to take what people say online with a grain of salt. And don’t perform any money transaction to people that you don’t know personally.
Use the REPORT button on social media when you see any suspicious behaviour online. This will notify the website admin of the scammer’s profile. Then, use the BLOCK button so the scammers won’t be able to contact you ever again.
If you find yourself caught in a love scam, tell your family and make a police report.
In 2019, it was reported that a female IT manager in Singapore, who was rebounding from a breakup, decided to look for love online. That’s when she met a diamond dealer who claimed to be working in the United States. They would chat every day. He told her about his mother’s passing and how lonely he felt. He sent her love poems along with selfies of himself. The relationship seemed … too perfect.
The man then asked her for S$7,000 to pay for customs fee for his diamonds. She made the transaction without hesitation. He then asked her for more money. The rose-tinted glasses of a new love cracked as suspicion arose. She reported it to the police and was lucky enough to get her money back from the bank. However, not many love scam victims share such luck.
Singapore Police Force reported that S$11.7 million was cheated by love scam victims in 2018. The value increased to S$17.1 million in 2019. The largest amount taken was S$2.4 million in a single love scam case.
– Woman arrested over money laundering in relation to love scam
– Prosecution calls for woman who scammed love scammer to get jail instead of treatment order
– Online romance scam: Woman loses $80,000, manipulated into becoming money mule
Singapore Police Force would like to alert members of the public of a new variant of Internet love scams, where the victims were purportedly asked to assist in transferring funds from fake bank websites.
In these cases, the scammers would befriend the victims on social media platforms. Thereafter, scammers would provide the victims with a fake bank website and login credentials and request the victims’ assistance to transfer funds. After logging into the fake banking websites with these login credentials, the victims discovered that they could not make any transfers from the account. The victims would then be convinced to pay administrative charges in order to complete the fund transfers or transfer the funds required by the scammers from their own accounts instead. Victims eventually realised that they were scammed when the scammers became uncontactable or were asked by the scammers to transfer funds multiple times.
Police would like to advise the members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures:
- Exercise caution when befriending strangers online.
- Never send money to people whom you do not know or have not met in person before.
- Do not click on suspicious URL links provided. When in doubt, always verify the authenticity of the information with the official website or alternative sources.
- Never share your bank account login credentials with anyone. Your personal bank account is for your own usage and you are responsible for all transactions made through your bank account.
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