Thank you. The first important thing you should bear in mind is that it is never possible to state with certainty whether someone you have met online is genuine or not unless you have actually met them in person. Therefore, there will always be a degree of speculation involved.
With the anonymity of the internet, there has been a very significant increase in romance scams. The main way to identify such scams is not by tracing the person, which as mentioned would often be impossible, but by looking at the overall situation and identifying certain 'red flags'. The most common ones are:
· You have met this person online, usually through a dating or social networking website, or via instant messaging.
· They will usually be located in a different country to you – they could either be from there and be open about it from the outset, or they could try and say they are there on business or similar
· They will strike a long-distance relationship with you. They may take time to gain your trust, although often the relationship progresses unnaturally fast.
· They will eventually ask for money. There are hundreds of reasons that could be used. However, the main rule is that you should never send money to a stranger that you have originally met online, no matter what the reasons or who they say they are.
· Once the money has been sent, the fraudster either stops all contact or more likely they know they have a willing victim at their disposal and ask for more and more payments due to new issues, which have suddenly arisen.
So in summary, if you have met someone online and have never met them in person and they start making requests for money, whatever the reasons – you basically know it is a scam. Do not proceed any further with this. Do not continue communicating with them and certainly do not send money if asked to.
Does this answer your query?