Do you know who is behind the person you are dating?
Romance scam, which is a refined form of internet scam, is becoming more common. Recently, a Dutch woman has felt victim to such a romance scam: she thought she was dating an American businessman, Paul, but it turned out that Paul was made up by a Nigerian gang. Before she had figured this out, she had transferred a total of 30 thousand euro to 'Paul' to help him with all kinds of problems. According to Sophie van der Zee, Assistant Professor at the Behavioural Economics Group at Erasmus University Rotterdam, romance scam is the worst kind of internet scam that exists.
Perpetrators give their victims the feeling that they genuinely know each other. They will give you the feeling that you know them better than you know your own children, says Assistant Professor Sophie van der Zee. However, when you try to meet up, something goes wrong. They will always have a reason why they cannot come to see you. That is also often the moment when the financial aspects gets in the picture.
The victims of romance scams are often called stupid, because they felt for the scam. However, the victims do not deserve to be called that way, says Sophie van der Zee. It happens step by step, and the victims really get sucked into it. And we all know that, when we are in love, we some do things which are irrational.
The Dutch 'Fraudehelpdesk' reported that the value of damages caused by romance scam has doubled over the past year to a total of 3.3 million euro.