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SCARS|RSN™ Scam Basics: Scammer Acid Test

Most Scams Follow Similar Patterns Of Behavior By The Scammer

HERE ARE A FEW COMMON TACTICS/BEHAVIORS/STRATEGIES SCAMMERS USE

Always be on the lookout for these warning signs that could identify a scammer.

The Basic Scam “Acid” Test:

PICTURE PROBLEMS
Is the person’s photo original? Use an image search tool like Google Images and/or Yandex to see if the same photo appears on many other websites, possibly under different names. If it does appear in many places, it suggests the photo might be stolen and the person may not be who they say they are. Want to make sure their still photos are legit? Ask your online sweetie to take a verification photo holding a sign with YOUR name. If they refuse that is a RED FLAG

NO VIDEO / LIMITED VIDEO / RECORDED VIDEO
Challenge your online partner to communicate via FaceTime or Skype so you can actually see who you are talking to in real-time. Then see what they say. Always include a specific test such as ask them to say “Hippopotamus” (because you can easily recognize the facial movements if the audio is out of sync. If they make excuses for weeks about why they cannot chat with you via video, that is a RED FLAG

WHAT DID YOU SAY?
If the person you’re seeing online claims to be native to a certain region or country but has a very different dialect or accent, that is a RED FLAG

BON VOYAGE
A common tactic used by scammers is claiming they quickly need to leave the country or want to come to you. Many online scammers are overseas to begin with, and this provides a convenient explanation of why they cannot meet you. If they are serious about meeting you they have to have several things:

  1. PASSPORT
    They must have a passport, ask to see it. Is it the same as your country? Ask to see the entry and exit stamps – for your country and where they are att – out of curiosity.
  2. ISSUED VISA
    If they have a passport from another country, especially a non-European country ask to see their U.S. Visa. You can look up online which countries require a VISA to get into your country.
  3. NEED A VISA
    If they need a VISA, such as for the U.S. there is a process and it is not fast. If they say that they can get a visa in a few days – always ask to see a copy of the VISA request documents, but a U.S. Visa can take months.
  4. YOU CAN CONTACT YOUR CONSUL
    In any country, your Country has a Consulate. You can contact them to check on their Visa status and application. You will find the email address of almost all Consuls online.

LOCAL PHOTOS
If they have a phone, they have a camera. Ask them for photos showing them doing normal things. Especially in front of their hotel – showing the name. Go online and find the hotel’s website for comparison. If they do not it’s a RED FLAG

EMERGENCY – NEED HELP NOW!
The person claims of legal trouble or other crises that require emergency funding should be met with skepticism ALWAYS. “Send money to get me out of jail” is a classic scam tactic for someone preying on your emotions. “Send money because I lost my wallet” and “Send money because I lost my passport and cannot get home” are other common warning signs of financial schemes to defraud you of money. In cases like this, ask them to contact their Country’s Consul to Contact you and offer to send the money THROUGH the Embassy – yes you can do that!

HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE ON DAY 5
Moving the relationship along very quickly should be a warning sign for online relationship. The faster a scam artist can proclaim his love and convince a victim to become emotionally invested, the sooner he can start asking for money. This is something called the Amygdala Hijack » and it works to trigger your own brain to help the scammer. Real relationships take time.

IT JUST DOESN’T ADD UP
The more questions you ask, the more information you’ll get to see if you can verify if your online Romeo or Juliet is telling the truth. Where can I send you a letter? Where do you work and what is your job title? Those are easy questions that should elicit quick responses that you can then search online to see if the answers make sense. Always insist on a mailing address, so you can “send them a surprise.” Every hotel can receive mail, and international airmail takes a week or less. If they will not it’s another RED FLAG

SCAMMERS ARE EASILY OFFENDED
Scammers or fraudsters are clever and will gaslight their potential victims, trying to make them feel guilty for asking tough questions.

IT ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO THE MONEY
Online scammers are out for one thing: making money at any cost. So your finances and the size of your bank account is a big deal to them. If some of the initial conversations you have with an online prospect include questions about whether you own your own home, how much you earn, or how much you have in savings, that could be a sign they are fishing for information to determine if you are worth their time.

KEEP IT SECRET – JUST BETWEEN US
Scammers will frequently ask their victims not to tell others about their relationship. They will also try to get you to communicate via personal email and text, away from the online dating sites where they can continue to look for more potential victims.

THEY SAY “I’LL PAY YOU BACK”
No, they won’t. Scammers in foreign countries do not send refund checks to their victims. Once the money is gone it is gone.

GIFT CARDS
Scam artists want money and items of value — any items of value. Asking you to wire money should be the most serious warning sign of an online scam. But asking for computers and gift cards is also very popular because they have instant value. A good rule of thumb: do not EVER send money, send items of value, or provide personal information such as your banking information or Social Security number to someone you have only met online.

ACCESS YOUR BANK ACCOUNT
Scammers are having more problems getting their money than before. Now they ask for access to your bank account to send money to you, so it can be forwarded to them. It seems innocent, but it is a crime and you could go to jail for money laundering. Plus you will owe taxes on every cent that flows through your account.