12-06-2023 10:31

Promises of love and riches – a common trick among scammers

Romance and investment fraud are two types of fraud on the rise. Both play on strong feelings of love or wealth to lure their victims. The ultimate goal is to trick victims into sending money.
Young woman looking at phone

Every year, fraudsters trick millions out of citizens of all ages. Romance and investment fraud are two examples of social manipulation where victims are duped into transferring the money themselves.

Amalia Krantz, fraud expert at Nordea.

“It often starts with a message on social media from a stranger who asks for a small sum of money. This is just the first step and over time, the scammer will ask for larger and larger sums,” say Amalia Krantz, fraud expert at Nordea.

According to the police, there are some common methods, for instance when a scammer pretends to be a UN soldier in a war zone, or stuck on an oil rig or a famous person. The scammer often sends well-written and almost poetic messages, promising love and a life together. After a while the scammer needs money. Sometimes they claim it’s for medicines stuck in customs, or that their bank has temporarily frozen their accounts, or that a family member is in financial difficulties. They may only ask for small sums initially, but the amounts will grow bigger over time.

“Romance fraud is an awful crime and there is a lot of shame associated with it. The victim is often both financially and emotionally devastated. Love is one of the strongest feelings we have, and sometimes the emotional damage is more difficult to come to terms with.”

If you meet someone or think about making a new investment, talk about it with someone close to you. Ask their advice and hear what they have to say before you transfer any money. 

An investment too good to be true

Investment fraud is another common crime. The victims is tricked into investing in something that doesn’t actually exist. The investment opportunity is advertised in social media or via phone calls, and can involve an offer to buy cryptocurrency. 

Also in this case, the initial investment will be small but the scammer quickly forges a relationship with their new investor and soon they will be asked to invest more. The investment’s performance can also be tracked on bogus websites.

“Naturally, this scam investment will generate great returns. The victim can follow the performance on professional-looking websites and is triggered to invest further capital. They might invest all their savings, take out loans and even encourage family and friends to invest.

The problems will start when the victim wants to withdraw money. The scammer will claim that further capital is needed to cover administration costs or taxes. This is a way of tricking the victim one last time before the scammer, the website and the money disappear.

There can also be another very cunning twist to the end-phase of the fraud. The victim can be contacted by a lawyer who wants to represent them and try to get their money back.

“The lawyer has information about all transfers and the total amount invested, and they give the victim hope that their money will be recovered. The lawyer just needs a small fee to start the process, but they are also a scammer.

Talk to someone close to you

Both romance and investment fraud are crimes that exploit strong feelings and to spot and stop them it’s important to nip them in the bud.

“If you meet someone or think about making a new investment, talk about it with someone close to you. Ask their advice and hear what they have to say before you transfer any money. The scammers want to isolate you and make you invest both your money and your feelings in their illusion. Don’t let them succeed in isolating you.”