How love bomb scammers manipulate their victims: Internet Scambusters #1,043
Love bombing sounds like it could be fun, but it's not.
It's a tactic online dating scammers use to get their victims under total control and manipulate them into handing over money.
In this week's issue, we explain exactly what love bombing is, how it works, and what you can do to protect yourself from these romance scammers.
Let's get started…
10 Warning Signs Of A Love Bomb Cheat
Are you under siege from a love bomber - someone who blasts you with so much fake affection that you fall under their total control?
Psychologists have labelled love bombing among the cruelest tactics underpinning romance scams, which cost Americans more than half a billion dollars last year, much of it through online relationships where the pair never meet. So, it's important to recognize the symptoms before you fall victim.
You've probably read stories of online dating scam victims who've sometimes lost their entire life savings. But this isn't always because they're gullible; it's also because they feel powerless to repel the scammer's demands for money, even when they suspect something isn't right.
What Is Love Bombing?
The nonprofit Cybercrime Support Network describes love bombing as, "Showering you with over-the-top affection, flattery, gifts, and praise early on in the relationship to win over your affection and attention. This tactic… is used by the scammer to manipulate you into jumping into a relationship sooner and more seriously than you originally intended."
Of course, it also operates outside the scam world in relationships where the bomber is a narcissist - a self-obsessed, arrogant person, interested only in advancing their inflated opinion of themselves.
Both in the real world and in romance scams, the perp uses love bombing in the early days of the relationship, often sending love messages, money, flowers, and gifts several times a day to the point where the victim feels overwhelmed. They may seem to be over-generous; then the manipulation begins.
Here are some of the other red flags to watch for from the outset:
- They brag about themselves, their looks, and their expertise, often in investing or other types of money-making.
- They say they love you almost immediately and certainly within days or weeks, telling you they want to be with you all the time.
- They use pet names and affectionate terms like "honey" and "sweetie" before you feel ready for this type of talk. You start to get the feeling that things are moving too quickly.
- They claim to be worried about you and about losing you, so they need to keep checking on you.
- They say you were made for each other, calling you a "soul mate."
- As they get to know you, they tell you things you want to hear and about plans for things you can do together - like buying a house.
- They try to force you into making some sort of commitment to them, almost from the get-go.
- Having flattered you and made you feel like a star, they switch tactics, criticizing and pretending to be angry, upset, or offended because you won't do as they ask or because you're trying to put the brakes on.
- You start to feel like you did something wrong and owe them something. It's as if you have to recover the relationship by pleasing them.
- They pretend to be jealous and try to cut you off from friends and family so you start to feel more dependent on them.
How To Shelter From Love Bombs
Oftentimes, victims of love-bombing are too embarrassed to report the scam and even frightened to escape the relationship. It's important to get help from a trusted friend or mental health professional if you suspect you're being, or have been, lined up as a victim.
Some of the other actions you can take to protect yourself include:
- Trying to verify their identity through a video chat. If they refuse, no matter what the excuse, it's probably a scam.
- If they come on too strong at the outset, stop and take stock. The relationship is almost certainly heading in the wrong direction.
- Refusing to send money, invest in their recommendations, or pay for airplane tickets.
- Making clear you're not ready to make a commitment. If they become angry, it's a scam.
- Don't provide any confidential information like account and credit card numbers or passwords.
- Listen to your gut instincts. They're usually right. This includes being suspicious of online suitors with movie-star looks, military prowess, or supposed huge business successes.
- Be strong. Love bombers are persistent and will not give up, even adopting different online identities to try to trick you. Block them and then be on your guard.
Also, check out our earlier reports on romance and dating scams: Clever Dating Scam Kits Sold Online and How Romance Scammers Convince Their Victims.
One final tip: If you've already fallen victim, try to recover your money, say from any investments they recommended, before you block them or cut them off. Then report them.
Love bombing is abuse, pure and simple. Look out for those tell-tale signs and get out - before it's too late.
This Week's Scam Alerts
Watch your purse: If someone knocks on your car window to ask you to check something about your car - like a leak - and you get out, don't leave your purse or wallet on the passenger seat. Scammers are working this trick in pairs. While one summons you outside, the other opens the door and takes whatever is there.
Philo subscriptions: Streaming TV provider Philo is being impersonated by scammers who send out personalized emails telling recipients their account has been activated. The official-looking message includes a customer service phone number but if you call, you'll be asked to give access to your PC so the problem can be rectified. A malware attack follows. If you don't have a Philo account, you can ignore the message. If you do have an account, visit the firm's website to check. Just don't call that number.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!