This retired nurse was living a happy retired life, as she got to spend more time with her sons and grandkids. However, she felt this overwhelming lonely feeling being single and a… Read More
During the year of the coronavirus pandemic, many people were forced to isolate themselves at home due to the fear of getting sick. Because of this, many people became bored and lonely as they tried to find ways to cope with being forced to stay at home. One way that people have tried to cure their loneliness is by creating online dating accounts, hoping to find their future significant other. However, scammers flood these dating apps and pretend to be someone they aren’t in order to lure their victims in. This has caused an increase in romance scams, with a record-breaking $304 million dollars due to these scams lost during the pandemic.
According to the above chart created by the FTC, back in 2016, only $75 million were lost due to romance scams with 11,235 cases reported. As we get into the year 2017, 16,902 cases were reported with $87 million lost. Then in 2018, it increased 22,264 cases with $145 million lost. In 2019, 25,113 cases were reported with $202 million lost. Finally last year in 2020, the record of the most cases and money lost due to romance scams broke with a whopping $304 million lost and 32,792 cases reported.
Within just a four-year span, romance scam cases increased by 21,557 cases and $229 million more dollars were lost. This just goes to show how romance scams keep rapidly increasing due to the uptick in users on dating apps and social media platforms. Last year, the record-breaking numbers occurred due to the coronavirus pandemic keeping us all indoors, forcing people to rely on dating apps and social media platforms so they wouldn’t feel as lonely. However, this made them more susceptible to romance scammers.
Many dating apps and social media platforms have become increasingly more popular from 2016 to now. For example, in a chart provided by Blackstone, IAC, Statista, and Business of Apps, shows that the global revenue for dating apps has increased from 2015 to 2020. This shows just how these dating apps have grown in popularity and how much people rely on them to find the person they are supposed to be with.
Along with this, many people were forced to stay at home when COVID-19 first occurred. Non-essential businesses closed, restaurants could only serve take-out only, and people were encouraged to only mingle in-person with those living in their homes. Therefore, many people had to rely on technology to have a conversation with friends or to make new friends that they could talk to.
This has given romance scammers the chance to use the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse as to why they couldn’t meet their victims in person. They have been claiming that they didn’t want to spread the virus and therefore couldn’t travel. They have also used it as an excuse as to why they couldn’t video chat with someone, claiming that they couldn’t afford the Internet due to a lack of jobs during the pandemic. This also became the reason why they need money from the victim since they are broke due to losing their job and need money to live.
At Social Catfish, we have a YouTube series called Scamfish. In this episode, we interviewed Jody from Missouri who has had experiences talking to three different romance scammers online. She formed romantic relationships with each one. Two of the romance scammers named Harrison Thomas and Edward Gilles claimed to live in Missouri, while one named Calvin Hugo claimed to live in Texas. She met Harrison and Edward on Match.com and met Calvin on Instagram. These romance scammers duped her out of $22,000 using other men’s photos.
Her husband passed away after working on a Tuesday and Wednesday. He woke up from a nap around 3 PM and felt like something was wrong with him, but didn’t go to the doctor. Jody went to go run errands then came home to find him gone. After being widowed in November of 2019, she decided to try online dating in June 2020 after healing from her grief.
She met her first romance scammer, Harrison, in June, and he immediately made her fall for him with his non-stop conversations via emailing and text messaging. He would even talk on the phone with her, which made her like him faster than she wanted to.
However, after six weeks of communicating with him, he started discussing an investment plan that he wanted to do with Jody. He asked her if he could borrow $135,000 from her, then asked to see her drivers’ license and passport. When Jody told him he wasn’t going to get any money or information from her, he stopped communicating with her.
Calvin was kind of subtle when he asked Jody for money, even though he asked for it within two weeks of their relationship. He needed $400 for a drill and $1,500 for his coworkers who ended up in a supposed accident and needed to be sent home. Then, he would ask for more and more money throughout the relationship. She ended up sending them the money, thinking it wasn’t that much.
Edward never asked her for money up-front. He would send her flirty messages and poems, which made him sweep Jody off her feet. The last day she spoke to him was on Thanksgiving Day in 2020. He claimed that he lost his job and needed $30,000 for an oil drill. When Jody told Edward she will not help cover the costs of the drill, he ghosted her and never talked to her again.
Jody is still online dating in hopes that she can find that guy who will sweep her off her feet. She knows that not every guy is a romance scammer that she meets online, and knows that one day the right one will come along.
At Social Catfish, we have a YouTube series called Scamfish. In this episode, we interviewed Cynthia from Vancouver, Canada who was married for 10 years and had two kids with her ex-husband. One day, her husband’s anxiety got to be too much for him and he walked out of the picture. She decided that she needed to move on and find companionship with someone else.
Due to COVID-19, she thought the best way to get back in the dating world was to go on Tinder and try it out. Back in the day, she felt that she was skinnier and had no kids which led to her having barely any insecurities. When she first started online dating, she felt more insecure about herself and felt like there was a lot of competition out there.
After a while, she met Garry Trueman who claimed that he was from the UK and had an engineering background. He claimed that he was initially living in the same area as Cynthia in Vancouver, Canada. She thought that it would make it easier to meet up with him one day. They also started talking on the phone every day, which made her fall even more for his accent every time he would flirt with her.
She found out 5 months after forming a relationship with him that he could be a romance scammer. He texted her saying he was in a tough position because the project he was on in the UK desperately needed money. He claimed he was stuck on an oil rig and that his credit card stopped working. He claimed that he needed money to get out of the trouble he was in and to get off the oil rig. This confirmed Cynthia’s suspicions that he was indeed a romance scammer.
That’s when she was honest with her son and told him she made a really bad mistake. She told him that she fell in love with someone that wasn’t real, and he responded claiming he knew that she wasn’t dating a real person. She was shocked and asked her son how he knew that. He then proceeded to show his mom that the pictures of the house the scammer showed her were the same exact pictures shown on a YouTube video he was watching.
If you think you’re dealing with a romance scammer or have had your pictures stolen, Social Catfish is here to help you!
If you want to be a part of our next YouTube video or blog post and share your story, now is your chance. You can educate the audience about what you have gone through and make sure no one else goes through the same thing. All you need to do is email ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com, and we will get back to you with more details.
You can also reverse search any information you have on the cargo scammer to see who it is you’ve really been talking to. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image you can search it up in our search bar to see if there is more information on the suspected romance scammer you are talking to.