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Love “SCAM” Breaks Your Heart and Bank

by Shah Farouq

Finding love could be considered to some as one of their goals in life, having a partner that would be by your side until the end of your time is not such a bad idea. Nowadays, with the presence of technology, finding love has been as easy from swiping left and right with several social apps such as Tinder, Bumble and many more.

However, with people trying to find love, it gives opportunity for the bad actors to use this as a method for them to scam the victims. This kind of frustration does not only break the victims heart but also would break their bank. Nowadays, scammers would disguise themselves with a different look or name to draw people in, often lifting pictures from the web and using made up names. Some go a step further and assume the identities of real people. Once they make online contact, they make up reasons not to meet in person.

The Covid-19 pandemic has both made that easier and inspired new twists to their stories, with many people reporting that their so-called suitor claimed to be unable to travel because of the pandemic. Some scammers have reportedly even canceled first date plans due to a supposed positive COVID-19 test.

In Malaysia according to The Star, a retired civil servant lost RM326,586 to a ‘love scam’ syndicate between March and April this year. The victim used the savings that she saved up from her 36 years of work and as well as insurance savings. The victim only realised she was cheated after finding out from a website that two other individuals were also cheated using the same way.

Common lies in love scam

The bad actors will approach the person and the common occupation that they introduce themselves as is always working on an oil rig, military or as a doctor with an international organization. These romance scammers will then ask the victims to pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses, pay customs fees to retrieve something, pay off gambling debts and pay for a visa or other official travel documents or even pay for surgery or other medical expenses.

Anyone can be behind the love scam
Anyone could be behind the keyboard conducting the love scam

The method of payment that these scammers will ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous. This method of transactions would be almost impossible for the victims to reverse.

There are ways to avoid losing your money to these romantic scammers and when you suspect that it is a romance scam, the first thing you should do is to stop any form of communication with hat person directly. Besides that, you could talk to a person you trust and check whether they are concerned about your new love interest. Furthermore, you can reverse-image search profile pictures and if it is associated with another name or details that does not match then it is a scam.

How to report the love scam

If you have fallen victim to the romance scam, then there are a few ways you do to minimize the damages. If you have paid a romance scammer with a gift card, you could contact the company that issued the card right away and tell them you about the situation and ask if they can refund your money. If you think it’s a scam, report it to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) or Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Love is a beautiful thing but do not let your emotions get the better of your judgement. Choose wisely and notice the red flags early on before you are scammed out of your money and heart. Remember you are responsible for your own happily ever after.

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