Thirty-two year old Krist Koranteng, of Maryland was recently arrested and charged with running a romance scam by which he is alleged to have stolen more than a million dollars from his elderly victims who he contacted online and then through emails, telephone calls and text messages convinced his victims that he was deeply in love with them.  Romance scams are big business.  According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center more than 56 million dollars is lost each year to romance scams with women over 50 being the most highly targeted victims.  Typically, in romance scams, the scammer, early on professes his or her love for the victim, but it is not too much later that the scammer starts requesting money for reasons ranging from sick relatives to phony investments to tickets for air travel to come meet their new love.

TIPS

There are many red flags to help you identify romance scams.  The most important thing to remember is to always be skeptical of anyone who falls in love with you quickly online without ever meeting you and early into the relationship needs you to wire money.  Here are a few other things to look for to help identify a romance scam.  Often their profile picture is stolen from a modeling website on the Internet.  If the picture looks too professional and the person looks too much like a model, you should be wary.  Particular phrases, such as “Remember the distance or color does not matter, but love matters a lot in life” is a phrase that turns up in many romance scam emails.  Also be on the lookout for bad spelling and grammar as many of the romance scammers claim to be Americans, but are actually foreigners lying about where they are and who they are.  Often they will ask you to use a webcam, but will not use one themselves.  This is another red flag.  One thing you may do is ask them to take a picture of themselves holding up a sign with their name on it.  In addition, ask for a number of pictures because generally when the scammers are stealing pictures of models from websites, they do not have many photographs. Ask for the picture to be at a particular place that you designate to further test them.  Wiring money or sending money through a cash card is always a cause for concern so if your new love suggests that you send money in that manner, you should be particularly skeptical.