The 4 Factors To Avoid Financial Fraud

Many types of fraud exist. You likely are familiar with many (hopefully not from personal experience). Online fraud. Relationship fraud. Financial fraud.

A most damaging one combines the 3: Online relationship financial fraud. It’s likely you’ve come across these heartbreaking tales. Someone who is trusting or lonely (or both) meets someone online. They start messaging. This new person gains their trust. But this new person “can’t” meet in person. It’s usually a complex story of them living far away. Or being out of town and unsure of when they return. They get that person to emotionally bond to them and then….they ask for money. Perhaps they say that it’s for a relative. Or that they have been in an accident. Or have a medical crisis. Or lost their job. They might start out with a small amount. They keep asking for larger amounts. This will continue until the victim, or someone in their life, questions what is going on. Hopefully it is not too late, and while this can be devastating to the heart and mind, hopefully not much (financial) harm has been done. AI will very, very likely make this worse.

So, how can one protect oneself from this happening to them? There are 4 factors to protecting oneself from this happening.

  1. Don’t Take A Profile At Face Value: When meeting someone online, understand that you truly know nothing about them. Do not build castles in the sky from the pictures you see or what they say in their profile. Limit the messaging to arranging meeting in person. You are putting yourself at emotional and psychological risk otherwise. If they make up excuses for why they can’t meet in person, move on. Do not create something that is not there.
  2. They Seem Too Good To Be True: So, you have met in person. You feel a connection. But, beware: Are they genuinely interested in the things you revealed in your profile? This can be hard to discern, especially if you’re feeling chemistry. This may sound mean, but it isn’t meant to: Are they ‘above’ the kinds of people you have had relationships with in the past? More ‘successful’? More attractive? Younger? It can, but not often, happen that someone ‘out of your league’ has a genuine connection with you. But it is rare. Very rare.
  3. Seek Counsel: Reach out to a friend or family member you trust. Share this new development with them. What do they think? Does anything sound like a red flag? Are you making excuses for this new person? Are you defensive when this friend or family member asks questions? If they see concerns, do you want to continue this new relationship? If you really feel you need more time to make your decision, remember why you sought out your friend or family member to discuss this with. The longer you stay in it, the harder it will be to protect yourself.
  4. They Ask For Money Or For Account Access: Done. It’s not real. I’d like to say something different: This likely is not a genuine connection. Hard as it may be to be ‘alone’ or ‘start all over’, your future self will thank you for the courage and discretion you had in leaving. As time goes on, you’ll look back and be grateful for how you protected yourself.

At the risk of sounding ageist, the older you are the more likely it is for this to happen to you. If it already has happened, don’t be too hard on yourself or feel ashamed, but please reach out to someone as soon as you can to help you.