Romance scammers will do anything to get their hands on their victims’ hard-earned cash. They go through countless dating sites and social media profiles, looking for people that will easily fall in love with them. Once they got their victims wrapped around their fingers, they will start asking for money or gift cards until their bank accounts are drained. Unfortunately, victims Early Collins and Betty Marsh fell for these romance scams losing $700 in total due to romance scams. The question is why do romance scammers want gift cards? Let’s find out.
How Do These Gift Card Scams Work?
Romance scammers come up with an emergency and ask the victims for gift cards. They claim that these gift cards will help them pay for construction gear, emergency equipment, or anything else they need in order to better their situation. The victim falls for these lies and sends the romance scammer the gift cards they asked for. Since the victim is madly in love with the romance scammer, they think that they are obligated to help their romance scammer in distress.
However, the romance scammer continues to ask the victim for gift cards, asking for larger amounts for bigger requests. When the victim tells the scammer that they have no more money left to give them, the scammer usually makes them feel bad for not giving them any more money. This leaves the victim to feel obligated to continue sending money to the scammers until they run out of every last penny. This is why one in four victims that fell for romance scams stated that they gave their romance scammers a gift card. Because of this, over $20 million a year is lost to gift card romance scams.
Why Do Romance Scammers Want Gift Cards?
Some romance scammers prefer gift cards over cash because it is untraceable. This makes it difficult for the victim to ever get their money back once they file a report. Because of this, romance scammers know they have a better chance of keeping the money sent to them via gift card. Even though they can’t use it to purchase anything they want to, they can sell it on various websites to get the money back for the gift card.
The money they get back for the gift card varies. Usually, they can get 80% back in revenue for the gift card they are selling. For example, if a romance scammer tries to sell a $100 gift card they can usually get $80 back in cash. Once they get the cashback for this gift card, they can use the money for whatever they want. Then after they get their cash back, they continuously ask their victims for more gift cards until they go bankrupt.
Early Collins’ Gift Card Scam Story
Early had been divorced for about 30 years and wanted to find a companion. She was shy and didn’t get out much, so she turned to online dating in hopes that she will find her perfect match. One day, she received a Facebook message from a man who claimed he saw her on a dating app. She told her how gorgeous she was and how he needed to have her on his friend’s list.
She usually didn’t add strangers on Facebook but thought that she should give him a try. After adding him on Facebook, they started talking on a daily basis. He admitted to her that he wasn’t looking for a friendship from her, he wanted a long-lasting relationship. He was saying all the right things that would sweep Early off her feet, but she was still trying to get to know him and thought of him as just a friend.
One time when they were talking, he told her that he was in trouble needed her help. She told him that she didn’t have any money, but he claimed he needed a $100 gift card, not money. She decided out of kindness to purchase the $100 gift card for him and told him she couldn’t send him any more money after that. However, he ended up asking her for four more gift cards anyways despite her request! She told him she didn’t have any more money to give him and will not send him more money.
Betty Marsh’s Gift Card Scam Story
Betty Marsh sent $600 in gift cards to Tyron, the guy she was talking to. He also started a conversation with her on Facebook and won her over with his sweet phrases. At first, she sent him $100 in eBay gift cards thinking that she would be nice to her potential man. Then as the conversations continued, he asked for another $100 in eBay gift cards. He repeated these requests over and over, asking for larger amounts of money each time.
Eventually, Betty stopped sending him money, and Tyron wondered why. She told him that she wanted to be with someone who actually cared about her. She didn’t want someone who continuously lied about needing gift cards for different reasons.
How to Avoid Romance Gift Card Scammers
- Don’t send anyone you meet online a gift card or money for any reason.
- If someone you don’t know adds you randomly on Facebook, delete their request.
- Always video chat or meet them in person to make sure they are who they say they are.
- Watch out for heavily edited photos on someone’s social media or dating profiles
- Don’t give out your personal information to anyone that you met online.
If You Have Already Given Them Money:
- Call local law enforcement
- If you know your gift card number, report the scam to the gift card company.
- Report the scam to the FTC.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You
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.