How do I catch a cheating partner

Actually, you just wanted to find love. But so-called love scammers take advantage of this longing - and cleverly pull money out of their victims' pockets.

It can be exciting: A flattering message from a stranger and you feel like you're on cloud nine. But what begins as a harmless flirtation can end in a tangible deception: Again and again people fall for love fraudsters online. But how does the scam work and how can you protect yourself against fraud?

Love scamming, also known as romance scamming or love fraud, describes a nasty scam: Fraudsters look for potential victims on online dating sites or in social networks and establish intensive contact. “The initial flirtation messages turn into declarations of love and promises, until it suddenly comes down to the real reason for all the attention,” warn the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) and the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer center.

According to police crime prevention, the fraudsters come up with a special life story in order to attract the attention of the other person. Often they are alleged engineers, U.S. soldiers, nurses or doctors. They pretend that they are genuinely interested: "The scammers often want to know everything about their victim: hobbies, former partners, children, friends, and belief in God always plays a role," explains Chief Detective Harald Schmidt, Managing Director of Police Crime Prevention of the federal states and of the federal government.

The target of the scammers? To make the online contact fall in love with you. Then the tide turns: And they demand money or possibly drag the victim into a crime. "Everyone can be a victim, it's not a question of age or intellect," says Schmidt. There are various scams that the fraudsters use.

One scam that is used again and again is playing with the lack of money. According to the LKA and the consumer advice center, the fraudsters pretend to need money urgently - for example during a stay abroad, for an alleged operation of a relative or for stolen passports. After receiving the money, they often cut off contact - and the money is lost.

A 56-year-old man from the Aurich district fell victim to such a scam. The woman he met on the Internet was allegedly in Africa to take on an inheritance. She wanted money from her online partner for the supposed fees that were incurred as a result. The insidious: "She 'proved' her information with copies of alleged personal documents in order to dispel doubts," it says in a police report. The man believed her - and transferred a total of several thousand euros.

Victims of love fraudsters can get into particularly great difficulties if they are misused for crimes. The LKA and the consumer advice center report on a case in which a woman was asked by her online acquaintance to forward a package to an alleged lawyer. But in a seemingly harmless package like this one could find something completely different: stolen goods or money of unknown origin. The dangerous thing: The victim can make himself liable to prosecution.

As the scammers' approach is often similar, consumers may be able to identify potential love scammers in good time based on a few characteristics. Police crime prevention has summarized the most important points. This includes:

  • Contact: Often, short emails in English are sent over the Internet that include an invitation to chat.
  • Language: In most cases, the love scammers speak English, but some can also speak perfect German.
  • Images: In order to attract their victims, the scammers use attractive images: women are often shown lightly dressed and men can be seen in uniform, for example.
  • Communication: In the messages exchanged, the victims are quickly ensnared with exaggerated oaths of love. Often they soon call their online partners “wife” or “husband”.
  • Requirements:After all the declarations of love, the fraudsters ask their victims for dubious services or money and have a variety of reasons for this (visa, flight, joint account, etc.).

Falling for a love cheater can have not only emotional consequences, but also financial and even criminal consequences. So that it doesn't get that far in the first place, the police give important tips that consumers can use to protect themselves. They should:

  • not transfer money to acquaintances whom they have never seen in person.
  • be especially wary of offers that are too good to be true.
  • Enter the name of the Internet acquaintance with the addition "Scammer" in a search engine. Some scammers don't change their names.
  • Break off all contact if the suspicion of a love cheater has been confirmed.
  • File a criminal complaint with the police.