Online romance scams are becoming more and more common, with scammers using dating websites, social media, and other platforms to trick individuals into sending them money. If you have a loved one who has fallen victim to an online romance scam, it can be difficult to know what to do. In this article, we will provide some advice on how to help a loved one who has been caught in an online romance scam.
How to Show a Loved One that they are Being Scammed
Sometimes, individuals who have fallen victim to an online romance scam may be in denial and refuse to believe that they are a victim. Here are some tips on how to convince a loved one that they are being scammed:
- Present the facts: Gather evidence and present it to your loved one in a clear and factual manner. This can include information about the scammer's behaviour or inconsistencies in their stories.
- Ask questions: Encourage your loved one to ask the scammer questions that only someone who is telling the truth would be able to answer. If the scammer is unable to provide a clear and concise answer, this is a red flag.
- Discuss their feelings: Talk to your loved one about the emotions they are feeling and why they may be reluctant to believe that they are being scammed. It is important to understand that scammers often use emotional manipulation to get their victims to send them money.
- Get a second opinion: Encourage your loved one to speak to someone they trust, such as another friend or family member, about their situation. A second opinion can help to provide clarity and perspective.
- Look for patterns: Research and discuss the typical patterns of online romance scams with your loved one. Point out the similarities between their situation and the typical patterns of scams.
- Use resources: Direct your loved one to resources such as the OCSIA website or Crimestoppers, which provide information for those unsure of whether they’re being scammed.
The next steps
If your loved one has begun to realise they may be involved in a romance scam, it’s important to take some actions to further protect them, and to make sure the scammer cannot manipulate them into trusting them again.
- Listen and offer support: The first thing you should do is to listen to your loved one without judgment. Scammers use emotional manipulation to get their victims to send them money, so it is important to understand that your loved one may feel embarrassed or ashamed about what has happened. Offer them support and let them know that they are not alone.
- Report the scam: Encourage your loved one to report the scam to the authorities. This can be done by contacting OCSIA using our cyber concerns reporting point.
- Cut off contact: It is important that your loved one cuts off all contact with the scammer. This may be difficult, especially if they have developed feelings for the person, but it is necessary to protect their finances and emotional well-being.
- Protect their personal information: Make sure your loved one takes steps to protect their personal information, such as changing passwords for their email and social media accounts, and not sharing sensitive information with anyone online.
- Seek professional help: If your loved one is struggling with the emotional fallout of the scam, encourage them to seek the help of a support group for victims of online scams. Charities such as Victim Support may be able to help.
It is important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, as your loved one may be feeling vulnerable and embarrassed. By presenting the facts, discussing their feelings, and providing support and resources, you can help your loved one to realise that they are being scammed and take the necessary steps to protect themselves.