A leaked playbook that professional con artists use to prey on those looking for love was made public on March 29 by California online dating investigation service Social Catfish in Murrieta, which is about 66 miles from Anaheim.
“Here is the playbook and scripts these scammers use. Share it with friends, or return to it whenever you meet someone new online and grow concerned if they’re honest with you,” the company said in a public statement.
The 22 page document details how to greet a victim, flirt, build a good rapport, develop a romantic relationship, avoid requests to speak on the phone or to meet in person, and tell fantasy love stories involving the victim.
Some of the usual pick-up lines include “hello amazingness,” “I passed by your photo too many times not to stop and say hi,” “my atoms are attracted to your atoms it’s chemistry,” and “you deserve a whole sheet of gold stars.”
Others are more playfully worded.
“I bet my dog would like you,” the script said. “I bet my cat would like you.”
The script also probes how the victim feels about long distance relationships, personal dreams, fears, secrets, and regrets in life.
The questions later become a lot more personal.
“Are you financially stable?” the script said. “What do you spend most of your money on?”
There are scripted responses to avoid speaking on the phone with the victim.
“Sorry I can’t call you cause we are not allowed to use mobiles here because the Taliban insurgents can manipulate it to detonate bombs so, for security reasons, we don’t use phones,” the script said. “I am sorry we can’t talk on the phone until I am out of here.”
The rest of the playbook is devoted to convincing the victim of falling madly in love and how these feelings are genuine.
She CAUGHT a Scammer! 🎣🎣🎣
— SocialCatfish (@socialcatfish) March 11, 2019
The company suggests such scammers may not necessarily be waiting to meet their victims on dating websites like Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, or OkCupid.
“Other times, you open an email where someone needs a loan and claims that they will pay you a thousand (or million) dollars in return,” Social Catfish said. “They sound genuine and you need the cash.”
Many of these requests are worded in a very convincing way, almost telling a Hollywood love adventure starring the victim and what appears to be a romantic and down-to-earth beauty or hunk.
“So many people fall for them and fast. They are composites of the perfect man or woman, someone possessing each quality you’re looking for—kindness, compassion, financial security, a good education, charm, humor, and best of all?” the company said. “They want nothing more than to meet, date, and be with you forever. It’s a whirlwind which has you thinking about a long-term future with someone you’ve never met in person.”
Although the victim may justify sending a gift with the false hope there is a real connection and love that will last for a lifetime but the scammer is in reality just thinking about taking the victim’s money.
Such cases are not rare, with the government funded Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirming in its 2018 report there were more than 21,000 romance scams resulting in a total of $143 million of losses to Americans.
“That’s more than any other consumer fraud type identified in [Consumer] Sentinel,” the FTC said on its website. “These reports are rising steadily. In 2015, by comparison, people filed 8,500 Sentinel reports with dollar losses of $33 million.”
Roses are red,Violets are blue,Romance scams are bad,And they will cost you!Last year, people reported losing $143…
Social Catfish has the following tips to make it easier to spot a scammer:
- Someone you meet online claims to be out of the state, country, or your geographic area
- They come on too strong and push you to take immediate action or require secrecy
- They always have an excuse. They still have an explanation as to why they cannot talk on the phone, access cash, pay you back, or see you
- They write you often and have long, perfect answers for all concerns
- If you meet on a game, dating site, or app, they immediately want to message on a separate service
- They have a unique way of writing and talking. They write differently and more formally than most, yet claim to be born and raised in America
- They won’t talk via video chat. Usually, people who are dating and falling in love long distance want to video chat all the time. If they send you a doctored video, it might be of someone they don’t know using a voice over
- Gut feeling suggests this may be a scam. While some Nigerian scammers can pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, most victims remember a moment when they had a nagging suspicion that they ignored or didn’t follow up on
- The person sends a request for money. If this happens on a website block and report that user to the site, app, or forum you met them on. If the money is already sent report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.