No two romance scams are identical, but they have plenty in common.
The bad guys find their targets using legitimate dating websites. Then they take their time, speaking to their marks by phone or through electronic communication, and over time, they gain trust. They don’t ask for money right away. They groom their victims.
And once they’ve established a “connection,” they pounce.
Perhaps they need money to help with their mother’s medical bills. Or they have a sick child, or their ex won’t pay child support. Or they’re going to be evicted because they lost their job, and they need money for rent. Or they need money to move closer to their new love.
After weeks or months of contact, the victims believe they have a real relationship with the scammer. They care about the con artist, and they feel the love right back. So when their special friend needs money, they’re happy to help.
The scammer is smart, though, and knows ways to receive cash while making it difficult, if not impossible, to track. Sometimes it’s a wire transfer. Or a gift card. Or a bank account that’s opened with fake ID and closed once it’s cashed out.