South African Romance Scams

Posted by SAPAC Reporter on

South African Romance Scams

Prepared by : Independent 
Article Classification: Types of Scams
Image courtesy: SAPAC Professionals and Contractors


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Areas: Southern AfricaNorthern Cape, Western Cape, Cape Winelands, Free State, Gauteng, North West Province, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Natal 

South African Romance Scams

Scammers use dating or friendship to win your trust and get your money.

Never assume a person that you've only met online is who they say they are. Scammers go to great lengths to convince you the relationship is real and manipulate you to give them money. Romance scammers will leave you broke and broken-hearted.

Scammers will find you on social media (Facebook) (WhatsApp) (Telegram), dating or gaming apps and websites. They might also text or email you. They hide behind fake profiles and identities, sometimes of famous people. They’re really good at making you feel special, so you believe the relationship is real.

Once you trust them, they have an ‘emergency’ and ask you to give them products or money to help them. Or they ask you to do things for them, like set up accounts or transfer money they give you. Scammers can wait years to build this trust.

Warning signs it might be a scam 

  • They express strong feelings quickly and the relationship moves fast. You are made to feel special quickly.
  • If you are chatting on your usual social media platform or an official dating service, they will quickly try and move the conversation offsite, for example to WhatsApp or Telegram.
  • Romance scammers will encourage secrecy and will influence you to only trust them. They may try to isolate you from your family and friends.
  • There will always be an excuse why they can’t meet in person or show themselves on camera. They say they live overseas or somewhere remote, or their technology isn’t working due to strange peculiar reasons.

Other things to look for

  • Their online profile doesn’t match what they tell you about themselves.
  • They talk about investments and or money. They might say they know about cryptocurrency and offer to teach you.
  • You are asked for personal photos, videos or information they could use against you in the future.
  • The scammer gets desperate or angry if you don’t do what they ask. They may threaten to cut off the relationship.

Steps you can take to protect yourself

Never send or transfer money to someone you haven't met

  • If your online connection asks you for money, they are likely a scammer. Stop contact right away and seek support immediately. 
  • Don’t send money, card or bank details or important ID or documents like your passport to someone you’ve only met online: No matter how long you’ve been messaging them.
  • Never agree to transfer money for someone else. It’s called money laundering and being involved is a criminal offence.

Check the person is who they say they are

  • Take things slowly. Ask lots of questions and watch for things that don’t add up.
  • Search for the scammer’s name along with the word ‘scam’ in a search, and look for websites about romance scams in the results.

Be careful what you share (and what you don't)

  • Never send intimate pictures or videos of yourself to people you don’t know. Scammers use these to blackmail people at a later stage. 
  • Don’t keep your online relationship a secret. Speak to people you know about it. It can be easier for others to spot the warning signs.
  • Be careful about what you share about yourself online.  Scammers can use information about your hobbies, job or family to target you.

Learn how to spot a fake profile

They usually have:

  • photos that look too professional
  • very little personal information
  • no connection to social media accounts
  • few comments, likes or shares on their social media from other people

Think you've been scammed?

1. Act fast to stop any further losses

Contact your bank or card provider immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transactions.

Change passwords on all your devices and online accounts like email, banking, government sites and shopping sites. 

2. Report the Scam

Once you have had the opportunity to have secured your details, you should open up a SAPS Case number, you can help us to try and stop the scammers or to warn other by reporting the scam to us. Depending on the nature of the scam site with a case number it can be listed. 

3. Get help to recover

With your case number visit your nearest Department of Home Affairs and provide them with the information of your case including your signed affidavit. They should be able to capture the fact that your personal details may have been stolen and may be used for criminal activities. Visit their Website and make an appointment

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