As people around the world celebrate love on Valentine’s day this year, they are reminded to keep safe from romance scams which have become a common phenomenon. Social media giantTikTok has issued a warning to users, asking them to be wary of the vice even as they browse online.
Cases of fraudsters targeting vulnerable singles have been on the rise, with some instances making their way to mainstream media. Just recently, video-streaming app, Netflix, ran a documentary dubbed “Tindler Swindler” telling a story of three women who were defrauded by Simon Leviev who was posing as a billionaire on the popular dating app.
TikTok said statistics in the US showed that romance scams accounted for the loss of more than Sh35 billion in 2020 alone, and the figures are still on the rise.
The popular app, which is reported to have about one billion monthly users, offered users some tips to stay safe.
- Take it slowly
According to TikTok, swindlers are likely to be quick in professing their affection. They will be eager to transfer the chat to other apps such as WhatsApp.
“A best practice is to vet your new heartthrob by asking questions, and pay attention to inconsistencies that may reveal your crush as an impostor,” TikTok says.
- Never Reveal Personal Information and Avoid Involving Money
When getting to know someone, TikTok warns against sending cash, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. The app also warns against sharing personal details such as bank account, home address, or such sensitive information.
- Look for Background Info
The internet provides a lot of resources that can help users find out more about anyone. You can search for your crush on Google, and if you have shared photos, use Google Images to check if the images appear elsewhere. You can also copy and paste their messages on Google to find if similar wordings have been used elsewhere before.
- It Might Help not to Accept Gifts.
Valentine’s Day is about exchanging gifts, but maybe you should wait to know someone better before accepting gifts. This was not among TikTok’s tips, but in Kenya, many users have been defrauded in the name of gifts.
Many ladies have shared how their love interests from Western countries offer to send them expensive gifts and money, only for them to get phone calls instructing them to pay huge sums in customs and taxes before their ‘gifts’ are released. This is normally a scam as the ladies later realize that their love interests are fellow countrymen possibly cooling their heels somewhere in Kamiti maximum prison as they conduct many heists.
If you realize that your love interest is a fraud, whether they were successful in defrauding you or not, report the matter to the app and to the authorities.