The Little Black Book of Scams: Romance scams quickly shift the conversation to desperate pleas for help and money by appealing to your romantic and compassionate side

This is the fourth chapter in the Little Black Book of Scams.


Who is really behind the keyboard?

Keep your guard up and look out for potential scammers who will try to lower your defences by appealing to your romantic and compassionate side.

They can prey on you through email, social media, dating websites, other websites and apps.

A scammer might send you a few messages and a good-looking photo of themselves, or of someone they claim to be. Once you are charmed, they will start asking you to send money.

They may claim to have a very sick family member or a desperate situation with which they need your help.

They will move quickly, confessing their love or strong feelings within a short time of meeting. They may ask for money to help with airfares to come and see you, but never arrive due to an emergency.

Tips to protect yourself

Never send money or give financial details on a dating site.

Be cautious about who you communicate with online.

Don’t respond to requests or hints for money.

Never send money to anyone you don’t know or haven’t meet in person.

✔ Avoid giving out personal details that could be used to impersonate you.

✔ If you think you are being scammed, stop all contact and avoid sending further payments. Protect your mobile phones.

Always report a scam

Who to contact depends on what type of scam is involved. Whether you’ve been scammed or targeted by a fraudster, you should always report it.

New Zealand authorities may not always be able to take action against scams, but there are ways you can help.

By reporting the scam, authorities may be able to warn other people and alert the media to minimise the chances of the scam spreading further. You should also warn your friends and family of any scams you come across.

Advice on where to report various types of scams is in the Little Black Book of Scams, here, page 17.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of any crime, in person or online, should report the matter to their local Police.


*The full booklet is here. This chapter is re-posted with permission. You can also watch a video interview with the Commission for Financial Capability's fraud education manager Bronwyn Groot here.

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3 Comments

Here's a funny one that happened to someone I knew in the UK. He met a Ukrainian lady on-line and after a few weeks of on-line flirting they decided to meet in Paris for their first face to face. He paid for the trip and they had a lovely time, after that first weekend he decided he was in love (unmarried guy in his late 40's - 23 year old Ukrainian). Three weeks later they met again, this time for a 2 week holiday in Thailand (he paid) and by the end of the trip he was smitten. The marriage happened after 3 months and she moved to the UK and into his house. He went to work after the honeymoon and on the Friday came home to find that his new wife had moved her Ukrainian boyfriend into the house with them. (My friend had unwittingly paid for the flights, she'd said her mother was visiting). Said friend then went into a depressed coma of shame and it was 2 months later that he finally surfaced came clean about his predicament over a round of golf. He was so embarrassed and couldn't see a solution to getting the big Ukrainian and his wife out of the house and he hadn't wanted to go to the police because he knew the news would get out in public.

That weekend we moved a few big local guys from the rugby club into his house, they drank beer, walked around the house naked, (including Denzel the big Jamaican lock) and by Sunday morning, without fuss the Ukrainian wife and her boyfriend had moved out. The divorce took 12 months to go through, wife still living in the UK. (my friend paid).

Anyway a little anecdote about the risks of buying a wife through Amazon direct...

I went to a dodgy bar in Soho many years ago and a young lady asked me to buy her a drink, a lemonade if I recall correctly. I was then presented with a bill for 112 pounds. They showed me the menu and sure enough lemonades were that pricey. I chucked ten pounds on the floor and made a run for it while they scrabbled for the cash. Good times.

you fool, that drink came with extras.