Inside the mind of a romance fraudster
Fraudsters use many tactics to influence their victims so that they believe they’re in a relationship in order to take their money.
Dr Elisabeth Carter, Criminologist and leading expert on the language of romance scams, explains how:
“Romance fraudsters use language to control and take advantage. They twist the way people make decisions in a similar way to grooming or domestic abuse. This is what makes it difficult for people to realise they’re being manipulated, even if it seems obvious to friends and family.”
Victims of romance scams are not simply sending money to strangers out of the blue. They’re making decisions that feel reasonable to them, which is why they don’t realise they’re being manipulated.
Three ways fraudsters use language to influence people into sending money
The set up
Early on in the relationship, fraudsters will give seemingly harmless details about their home life, work and family. They’ll use this information later to make their request for money seem reasonable, and even expected.
Fraudsters play on people’s instincts to help others in need. They come up with powerful reasons as to why they need help and money. They can use excuses such as illness, the need to pay a bill or even to pay for flights to see you.
Fraudsters will try to cut people off from friends and family because it’s easier to manipulate them when they’re alone. This way people outside of the relationship can’t give their point of view. They’ll make victims feel disloyal for opening up to others about their relationship.