Romance Scams Awareness
Many of us are familiar with the beautiful subtleties of romance. And hopefully, many of you reading this have experienced it firsthand. The feelings it evokes can create lifelong memories and serve as a motivator. Luckily, I have had such experiences with my wife and would not trade them for anything.
Conversely, while most of us are familiar with the definition of romance and the word scam (to deceive and defraud someone), how much do we really know about romance scams?
The phrase “romance scams” might initially sound sad, scary, or even ridiculous. But the reality is that these scams do exist. It’s hard to believe that things like this could happen in 2023, but they do — frequently. Sadly, I’ve seen firsthand how devastating they can be.
I will share some of my story, how we tackled having my image stolen, and how we support victims of romance scams today. I’ll also leave you with some great resources and info about an upcoming free online event that anyone concerned about romance scams should consider attending.
My History with Romance Scams Awareness
Here is my story. In 2016, one of my employees discovered a few social media profiles stealing my pictures and pretending to be me. After investigating further, she found 98 profiles on a single platform connected to my name, Anthony Dohrmann.
Indeed, one profile listed Anthony Dohrmann, the bus driver. Another was listed as Anthony Dohrmann, the secretary. Another showed Anthony Dohrmann, the pizza delivery guy. I like pizza just as much as the next guy but don’t own a shop or deliver it for a living.
My staff member and I discussed the situation, and she sent all the information she could gather on the platforms to the authorities and checked in with the FBI. Unfortunately, we unearthed something that would become an everyday battle and added a new phrase to our vocabulary: “romance scams.”
What we found next was devasting. People on the other side of the world stole my identity, my images, the images of my children, and my business. Subsequently, they create fake profiles to entice people into relationships. Their entire goal is to steal as much money from those people as possible. That’s a romance scam in a nutshell. And that makes me pretty angry.
Being an identity theft victim is challenging
If your identity has been stolen for use in romance scams, you know firsthand the troubles that come with it. Victims may report the fraud and even turn to you to recover their stolen money. Some victims may even mistake you for the scammer and express anger and disgust toward you.
Likewise, you may receive messages from family members of victims who think you are the perpetrator of this heinous act. And, in my opinion, the very worst, you might also know all too well the victims who refuse to let ‘you’ go and become trolls. They call your family members, follow your social media accounts, and even threaten your spouse from their shattered world.
What to do? I’d suggest you join the fight because, frankly, at the moment, we are outnumbered.
We all Need to Choose
You could contact an anti-scam group if you feel uncomfortable assuming a warrior role in this battle against scammers. Perhaps you can send them a brief video that shows your face and assures the world that you are not seeking money or a relationship.
My team and I are committed to removing as many fake Anthony Dohrmann profiles as possible. Every profile that is taken down means more potential victims are safeguarded. You are the best person to tackle the scammers impersonating you. So am I.
Connect with Others Fighting Romance Scams
My company supports Advocating Against Romance Scams (AARS), a team of anti-scam warriors who combat romance scams through education, outreach, and influence. AARS cares deeply about scam victims and believes that legislation, social media accountability, and the judiciary process are crucial to ending these scams.
Partners in the Romance Scams Fight are on the Rise
In a recent article titled “Cybercrime Costs Older Americans $3 Billion in 2021,” AARP stated that nearly a quarter of that loss is borne by people aged 60 and older. Another key finding is that “older victims in tech support, romance, and other scams are increasingly being asked to pay in cryptocurrency.”
Even the FTC is Speaking Out About Romance Scams
In an article from February of this year, the FTC highlighted the many lies romance scammers use to manipulate and control their victims. “These scammers pay close attention to the information you share and don’t miss a beat becoming your perfect match. You like a thing, so that’s their thing, too. You’re looking to settle down. They’re ready, too. But there is one exception – you want to meet in real life, and they can’t. Reports show their excuse is often baked right into their fake identity. Claiming to be on a faraway military base is the most popular excuse, but “offshore oil rig worker” is another common (and fake) occupation. In short, there’s no end to the lies romance scammers will tell to get your money.”
Businesses get involved in Romance Scam Prevention
Furthermore, it is commendable that more corporations are joining the fight against online fraud. Companies such as MatchGroup have initiated campaigns to assist their users in detecting various types of scams, such as romance scams.
At my company, Electronic Caregiver, Inc., we prioritize caring for others. Our team comprises former healthcare employees, home care staff, and caregivers. We are dedicated to assisting and protecting society’s most vulnerable. This includes victims of romance scams, who are especially susceptible to harm. With compassion and determination, we work tirelessly to combat these scams and support those affected.
Caring Includes Romance Scam Victims
Electronic Caregiver, a healthcare innovation company, has created various systems to help people live safely in their preferred spaces while following their medical care plans. We often encounter customers who need clarification about their healthcare or can be naive regarding technology.
Therefore, partnerships like this are ideal, especially for companies like ours that have mastered the nuances of interaction with our elderly population. Successfully engaging them to help themselves with their healthcare is very empowering for them. If we can educate them about romance and elderly financial scams as well, it is simply another win.
The Cost of Romance Scams
In a recent article, “The Devastating Impact of Elder Financial Abuse,” author M.T. Connolly estimated that the cumulative amount of money lost annually to elder financial exploitation varies widely—from hundreds of millions to tens of billions of dollars. The numbers are hard to pin down. This is partly because people over 60 are less likely to report fraud in the first place.
WORLD ROMANCE SCAM PREVENTION DAY 2023
On October 3, 2023, the world marked the inaugural World Romance Scam Prevention Day. Electronic Caregiver is proud to have partnered with AARP, Match Group, AARS, InfraGard, Catch the Catfish, and many others to raise awareness about this issue. We also sponsored a well-attended free webinar to provide victims with helpful resources.
Tinder and its parent company, Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH) partnered with Mean Girls Jonathan Bennett to help get the word out about the day and the webinar.
You can find out more about World Romance Scam Prevention Day here. We fight fraud and fuel education with others because we are truly stronger together.
What can you do when meeting someone online?
Finally, here’s what the FTC recommends when meeting others online to avoid romance scams:
“So what can singles do to play it safe while dating online? Here are some tips to help spot bogus suitors:
- Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
- Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. In the excitement about what feels like a new relationship, we can be blinded to things that don’t add up. Pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
- Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Try a reverse-image search of the profile pictures. If they’re associated with another name or details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.”
As for our work fighting romance scams, I believe there are many ways to care for a heart. Stay safe and smart. And by the way, all the links to my official profiles are on this website. The rest are, well, you know…