The next time you log on to the internet in search of love, be mindful that a romance scammer may be lurking around. Waiting for an opportunity to pull at your heartstrings to get you to loosen up those purse strings. Fortunately, with the right questions to ask a romance scammer, you can stop such a fraud in its tracks.
A person who is out to scam you at the pretext of falling in love with you is bound to have done their homework, prepared a believable back story, and created a cover that can be protected to an extent. So, simple, straightforward questions aren’t going to yield the insights you need to confirm your suspicion about a potential beau’s intentions.
Digging below the surface and making inquiries that can make the person on the other end squirm is the only way to identify a romance scammer.
15 Questions To Ask A Romance Scammer To Identify Them
How to catch a romance scammer? If you’re wondering about this either because you suspect that a person making romantic overtures may be out to scam you or just to be safe, know that it’s all about learning to spot and uncover romance scammer tactics.
Since such people have a lot to hide, they prefer to be in control of the conversation. This helps them protect their identity, share the details they want you to hear, and slowly establish a hold on your heart and mind. A simple yet effective way to breach this shield and save yourself from catfishing is by assuming control of the narrative with some smart, pointed queries.
Here are 15 questions to ask a romance scammer that will help you draw them out:
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1. Where did you grow up?
Now, when you first ask them where they’re from, a romance scammer will likely reply without hesitation or delay. But their answer will always be vague and generic. For instance, if they’ve told you they’re from the States and working overseas currently, they may say, ‘I grew up in the Chicago area’. That’s the city of Chicago and 14 other counties in the state of Illinois.
So, one of the first questions to ask a romance scammer is about the specific details of their home. Where in Chicago? Which area, suburb, street, and so on. A person who has never stepped foot in the US will definitely struggle to answer this.
That’s your first clue to identify a romance scammer.
2. Which school/college did you attend?
In all probability, your romance scammer will steer clear of Ivy League institutions such as Harvard or Yale. They will give a more obscure name or say that they didn’t go to college at all. In that case, ask them where they finished high school.
As you venture into specifics, you will begin to notice that the romance scammer is doing their best to dodge your questions. You must persevere. If they go on the offensive, tell them it’s because you want to get to know them better.
3. Oh, do you know (insert name)?
No matter how obscure or unknown a name of a school or college this person throws at you, run a quick internet search to see if it exists. If it doesn’t, that in itself gives you something to confront them.
If it does, just make up a fictitious friend or cousin and ask them if they know him/her. ‘Oh, you must know Debra then. She is my cousin who attended the same school. She graduated high school around the same time as you and was the head cheerleader.’ Now, it’s virtually impossible to not know the head cheerleader of a school you attend.
Unless this person actually went to this school or college (the chances of which are next to none) and tells you in no uncertain terms that there was no such girl, this gives you a pretty good opportunity to catch them on a lie, even if you’re dealing with a compulsive liar.
Particularly, if they say they do know a Debra you’ve just created.
4. What is your middle name?
If the person you’re interacting with is indeed a romance scammer, rest assured that they will give you a rather generic name. They will be Tom, John, Robert, Emma, Karen, Emily or some such. And have an equally universal second name too, if they choose to share it with you at all.
So, ask them for their middle name on the pretext of getting to know them better. A person operating under an assumed identity will find themselves lost at this question. Coming up with a middle name and a convincing back story for in on the spot is no child’s play. It can help you identify if you’re in a fake relationship.
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5. What is your family like?
A majority of romance scammers are part of syndicates that operate out of unheard-of towns and cities in underdeveloped countries in Africa or Asia. While they may have some superficial knowledge about the US, it is impossible to truly know the familial structure or culture of a place you’ve never been to.
So, asking them about their family is the perfect way to put them on the edge. They will either avoid answering or give you some super dramatic story about not having a family at all. Take it as a red flag.
6. What’s your favorite restaurant back at home?
Again this is one of the questions to ask a romance scammer that taps into the power of specifics. Since they actually know little or nothing about the city they claim to be from, you will find them fumbling for an answer. If you’re interacting over text messages, they may even cut the conversation short on some pretext or the other. This goes against the rules of texting while dating, which should be considered a red flag.
Or if they say a McDonald’s or Subway on a particular street is their favorite place to eat, you can be certain they’re lying through their teeth. Who even lists a fast-food chain as their favorite restaurant in a city they grew up in! In all likelihood, their response is the result of a quick internet search.
7. What was your favorite ritual as a child?
Be it an occasional picnic in a local park with extended family or friends or annual trips to a cabin in the woods somewhere, everyone has some memories of certain family rituals that were an integral part of their growing up years. Even if this person is selling you an orphan sob story, they must have had some support system growing up.
Ask them to recount their childhood memories to you and you will be able to tell whether the person is genuine or a gold-digger who is out to scam you.
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8. What are you up to right now?
To track a scammer on Hangouts or Messenger or any other such chat platform, ask them what they’re doing. Then, sneakily hit the video call button. If it’s a romance scammer on the other side, they will NEVER accept the call.
Of course, they may give you a zillion different excuses for it – ‘my connection is poor’, ‘I look like crap. I don’t want you to see me like this’ or ‘there are people around me’, to name a few. The more often you try, the more sketchy their responses start to seem.
9. Can we have a video call date later?
How to catch a romance scammer? Insisting on seeing them up close is one strategy that always works. In case your supposed beau or wooer didn’t accept the video call you made out of the blue, ask them to set a video call date at a day and time of their choosing.
A scammer will 100% either turn down your request or make some excuses to cancel the date at the last minute. The fact that they are doing everything in their power to avoid a situation where you can get to see them is a red flag that should deter you from taking things forward.
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10. What’s your day like?
Say the person you’re talking to has told you that they’re in the military and currently stationed in Afghanistan. Make some effort to find out people around you who have served there – preferably recently – and ask them what a typical day there looks like.
Then, ask this person the same question. If what they describe to you is far removed from the description offered by a real veteran and resembles the plot of a war thriller more closely, you know they’re bluffing.
They may tell you that they can’t divulge much owing to the sensitive nature of their posting. In that case, insist on hearing whatever they can share. Like what are their living arrangements like, what kind of meals they eat, what’s the temperature there and so on.
11. What was your life like before this assignment?
Whether it’s a person serving in the military, working on an oil rig, or a corporate employee on an offshore assignment, they must have had a life before this current gig came along. So, add this to your list of questions to ask a romance scammer to catch them off guard.
Ask them about their place of work, past relationships, friends, where they lived, and so on. The sketchier their responses, the surer you can be that this thing isn’t real.
12. What are your social media handles?
If you connected over an online dating site, ask them for their handles on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, saying you’d like to connect with them. If you met on one of the social media platforms, ask for details about the others. One possibility is that they may deny having a social media presence altogether. That in itself should be enough to confirm your suspicions.
Nearly everyone today has some sort of social media presence. The fact that someone so active online doesn’t is more than odd. Alternatively, they may share their social media profiles with you. In that case, pay attention to their posts to see how authentic the profile seems. Generic photos, very few friends or recently created profiles are all signs that these are fakes.
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13. Can I see your photo?
You could also build upon romance scammer messages to ask them some unnerving questions. For instance, if they flatter you by saying that you have the loveliest smile, you could respond with, ‘I don’t think I have seen your smile up close. Can you send me a picture right now?’
Someone who is playing you will bolt at a lightning-fast pace at the mere mention of this.
14. When can we meet?
Another way you can use scammer love messages to put them in a corner is to use their words as a pretext to suggest a meeting. For instance, if this person says, ‘Gosh, I miss you.’ Respond with, ‘I do too. When can we meet?’ Expect an evasive, non-committal response from the other side.
But prevail and ask for more details like ‘when are you expected to return home?’ or ‘is there a place near where you’re based that we can meet at?’ The more you insist on an in-person meeting, the more jittery they will get. It is possible that they may even decide to make their ultimate move sooner to be able to milk you for some cash before the scam unravels. After all, they’re in the relationship for the money.
15. Can I have your social security number?
This becomes the most important among the questions to ask a romance scammer in the event that this imposter asks you for money. First of all, never-ever agree to send money to a person you’ve never even met in your life just because their story seems convincing. Always lead with, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ No matter how big or small the amount.
Then, in your following interaction, tell them that you discussed the matter with your lawyer/financial advisor/bank account manager, and they need their social security number to complete the transfer. Of course, they won’t be able to furnish a social security number they don’t have. That will be the end of their con on you.
Once you have been able to identify a romance scammer, make it a point to report it to the authorities. You can register your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Romance scammers typically target people who are financially stable and emotionally vulnerable – middle-aged singles, widows, widowers or divorces. If you or your friends belong to that target group, spread the word and help them understand how to outsmart a romance scammer.
No, one of the romance scammer tactics is to avoid video calls at all costs. They may do so because they may be hiding behind a fake identity. If you get to see the real person you’re interacting with, their entire con falls flat.
If you’re talking to a scammer, first and foremost, they will seem too eager to take the relationship with your forward. A scammer will be almost aggressive in their expressions of love and do everything in their power to make you feel the same way too. Once you take the bait, they’d swoop in with demands for money.
These romance scams are typically run by syndicates that operate out of different cities in the world. Often, multiple people ‘handle the account’ of a potential victim. For them, it’s a business and their approach is absolutely clinical. The chances that a scammer falls in love with his or her victim are next to none.