Welcome to Romance Scam! Examining Social Scams

Welcome to Romance Scam might sound like a new virus, but it is the opening line on the landing page for romancescam.com. The website is designed to help people who have been defrauded or who think that their friends or relatives might have been contacted by a scammer. It started as an adjunct to datingNmore, which wanted to discourage scamming on their site, but grew to more.

The Nigerian Prince Scam

Back in the early days of email and all things Internet, it was not unusual to get an email that said something like, “I am a member of the fraud protection scamroyal family. Must flee country but can’t get money without US bank account. I send you money if you help.” The email was always long, in broken English, and was often ungrammatical. The goal, of course, was to get the reader to share their bank information. Often, the “Nigerian Prince” had been nowhere near Nigeria and certainly was not royalty.

The Dating/Romance Scam

These often begin with flattering words over an online chat and progress quickly to declarations of love. The declarations are then followed by suggestions to meet, along with a request for money to make the trip to your location. As the date for the event draws near, obstacles keep the scammer from making the trip – along with requests for more money, of course.

Make Millions Scam

Currently all over the Internet are advertisements inviting people to sign up for classes, to sell things, to learn how to publish their books, and more. Each promises you the chance to make hundreds of dollars with limited effort. The information about each of these schemes drills down to a fee for the book, class or video with costs ranging from around $9.99 to several hundred dollars. Unfortunately, often the only person to make money is the person collecting the fees for the book, course or video.

Why Are These Schemes Still Around?

Sadly, we don’t need a forensic psychologist to discover why these schemes are so successful. The answers lie in human nature. There are many people who have generous natures, who would be glad to help people get out of troubled areas into places that are safer and calmer. Almost everyone wants to be loved. Babies do best when they are picked up and cuddled. The elderly thrive on human contact and look forward to programs where college students come to visit at nursing homes. As for money, it might be the root of all evil, but there are few among us who wouldn’t like to have a little bit more.

Combating Human Nature

For yourself, consider that time-worn adage, “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” Do your fact checking carefully. If you want to help people, contact your local school or health agencies. They are often looking for volunteers. If you suspect that someone you know is being scammed, collect information. Show them the evidence. If that doesn’t work, then visit with a social worker or a lawyer to see what can be done. You might be surprised at what turns up.