I was going to post something else today, but then it happened again - some guy contacted me on Facebook wanting to be best buds. I immediately responded that my husband and daughter are my best friends. If I never hear from him again, that's okay. More than likely, he's a romance scammer.
Most of my social media activity is on Wordpress. I enjoy posting things I've written and visiting other people's blogs. I stay on Facebook mostly to stay in touch with family. I like looking at people's photography on Instagram. I never liked Twitter, and I don't use it. Not only do I not like Twitter management or Twitter as a company, but the nastiest people seem to hang out there. I've met some real kooks who just can't get it through their heads that we live in a free country where all points of view are valuable. I'm not obligated to agree with them, no matter how nasty they get. LinkedIn is supposed to be a professional site, but it's now used for dating purposes. I try to be polite and friendly to everyone, but it's impossible when someone has hurt feelings because you rejected their romantic advances. So much for professionalism.
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are notorious sites for predators trying to pick up vulnerable women and children. And it has gotten worse with the isolating effects of COVID-19 and all the restrictions placed on us. People are hungry for affection and communication, and this sets them up as victims of romance scammers, if they aren't careful.
Scammers will contact you with credentials like "widower living in San Diego but currently working for the UN in Yemen." They often pose as a doctor or other humanitarian worker. They may have at least one child in boarding school. They send you enticing photos of themselves which have probably been stolen or faked. They come off as real friendly and understanding, sincerely looking for a good friend and/or partner. They try to win your trust through flattery and play on your burning need for affection. As you become more involved, they try to control the conversation, control you, and put guilt trips on you if you try to back off. They can be downright abusive in maintaining that control. Eventually, they will hit you up for money or sex or whatever they are looking to get from you.
They don't care if you are married, how many children you have, or how old you are. They will tell you that such things don't matter with true love. Many of these scams come out of Nigeria, so talking on video chat is not allowed. After all, it's hard to explain how the white man in the photos working as a doctor in Yemen suddenly turned into a black man living in Nigeria.
Valentine's Day is a day when we honor our spouses, our partners, our children, and our friends. Everybody wants a little romance in their life. But online scammers know this and will make you pay a heavy price for that digital experience.
Dawn Pisturino, RN
February 10, 2022
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