Love is in the air. Nay. There is more love on social media platforms, dating sites and then comes the love from strangers on WhatsApp and email. No, we aren’t talking about the ‘luking luvly medam’ texts.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Telangana’s Director General of Police Mahendar Reddy took to Twitter to warn of romance fraud. His tweet read, “Did you know that in 2018, millions of money was lost to romance fraud? We’re warning people to spot the signs of romance fraud ahead of #ValentinesDay.” Don’t invest your heart — or your data — in a #fauxmance.
This message is an eye-opener and a timely warning for those looking for love in the wrong places and around the wrong circumstances. But how does one actually pinpoint the signs of romance fraud? Though every romance fraud need not be by way of the Internet, experts say, a lot of young men and women fall prey to frauds over the Internet very easily.
“I wasn’t duped by a stranger, but by an acquaintance who made use of my emotional state to gain my confidence and then slowly, yet very smoothly extract a lot of money from me as ‘loan.’ It took me months to finally realise I was taken for a ride. Eventually the money never came back and I realised I became a victim once more. Being friends is one thing and letting another person know a lot about you is another. Thankfully, I never agreed to share photos,” says Shreya Kumar, a bank employee.
Some of the tell-tale signs that can be considered to spot a romance fraud are: asking too many personal questions, the fraudster could avoid answering personal questions about himself/herself. There’s definitely a psychology into spotting these signs, be it inconsistencies or the potential predator paying more attention on their prey’s emotional and mental vulnerabilities. Funny but true, spelling do seem to play a big role. “I know fraudsters when they say they are masters and cannot spell ‘university’ correctly. Sometimes the details on social media don’t match up to the reality,” laughs Kalpana Singh, a freelance writer. As a writer and an active person on social media, she loves exploring Tinder to spot frauds. “Dating sites I think have the maximum number of misguiding information,” she adds.
However, all is not-so-bad in the world called the Internet. Krish Sharma, who resides in Kukatpally, shares he met his wife online. “I think she thought I was either a catfish or a robot or a scam-artist. I was doing 18-hour workdays and couldn’t meet her the first few times she asked, which I’m sure annoyed her and also made her paranoid, but she won’t admit that now.”
But Krish seems to draw a valid comparison about being elusive only to be looked as a scamster. Refusing to meet happens to be one definite sign to make one doubt the new ‘friend.’
The 25-year-old Priyanka Das admits she avoids these sites due to the threat of fauxmances. “I didn’t realise there was an actual term for it! But, I think when you commit to staying away from the idea of a ‘digital meet cute’, your online data and money is safer… in a way. We don’t realise how much we reveal of ourselves online and then it can be used against us. So I prefer meeting people the old-fashioned way!”
What’s the old-fashioned way? Background checks by the family and organic set-ups, of course. No harm in being old-fashioned but then there is no guarantee there as well. “I was dating a guy from work for two years and was about to be married. Suddenly he went missing, that’s when we searched and realised he has been married for four years. I invested a lot of time and money. Thankfully I was strong and could pick myself up fast,” says Amita Bora.