Romantic Scams: A Security Issue
By Rosy Fonseca
Until very recently I was totally unaware of what a "Romantic Scam" was, but I was a victim of it. From my experience, I could reflect and think that this type of criminal action has taken us all unawares; Reason why I wanted to express my point of view, through this article.
As a journalist and social communicator, I understand the role of communication in our lives and the undeniable advance of technology and mass media. The twist they have given to all spheres of society, the computer, the internet and cell phone, making instantaneous information available to us is an indisputable achievement.
However, after knowing the "modus operandi" of the romantic swindlers, through the net, I think it necessary to find a balance between the personal information we offer outwardly and what we should reserve for ourselves. In the midst of the issue that concerns us, I wonder if the users of social networks have neglected our privacy and privacy, thus losing part of our security.
When we have experienced security, we never think that we can be victims of something that damages our physical, moral, emotional or economic integrity. However, the dangers and threats of the context we live in expose us and make us vulnerable to risks that, at some point in our lives, can totally change that perception.
Safety is a particular feeling that you are out of danger. At least five generations grew up living a concept of security that is currently far from that referent of some fifty years ago. Both the society and our parents were responsible for offering us a security concept where it was believed that being at home and safeguarding in it was the best thing in the world. A house was a haven of peace, a meeting point with the family, with the flavor of home and a safe place, at least it was a collective idea that deprived for a long time.
These same generations grew up listening to the radio, watching television and following the news, through morning or afternoon newspapers. With the advancement of technology and the creation of the computer, the internet and the cell phone, communication became more agile. Virtual social networks and Facebook in particular, caused many people who did not dare to make friends because of shyness or other reasons, just open an account, put a photo and create a profile, and could send messages and make friends. One day, we were all interconnected on a planetary level. It began to happen all over the planet, simultaneously, as Marshall McLuhan (1979) had once envisioned it with its [/quote]global village][/quote].
At the same time that we established relationships with other people, in other parts of the world, the intimacy of our home was also gradually exposed. Through photos of the family, children, friends or couple, Facebook walls and other similar programs, they began to fill up with photos in the garden, the dining room, the living room, and, for those who broke the border between Public and private, preferred the photos or videos, in the bathroom or the room.
Without realizing it, we unveiled what was beyond the walls of our house and somehow broke our intimacy and our security to publicly invite them to know our life.
The information we provide to those we do not know
It is something we should ask ourselves, especially when it is the first time we meet that person.
When we provide so much information about ourselves, it is only comparable to the information provided by an X-ray or a scanner. We expose our personal preferences, political and religious beliefs, characteristics of our personality, telephone numbers, email addresses and our home. Some like Facebook have security filters but we do not use them because we feel safe, confident and do not think for an instant, that information can be read and used by others, such is the case of romantic scammers.
Other people have adopted the habit of informing, from their cell phone, where they are and the activities they develop during the day. So it is worth analyzing if it is a real need to communicate or is a way to fill the spaces of leisure or the loneliness in which many human beings live.
While communication is more effective and faster than ever before, the ways of relating and communicating have also changed and transformed. Distances shortened and life became almost instantaneous. Hence the friendship we make through social networks is like eating marshmallows. People we have seen only once, are registered as our friends. Individuals who pass by curiosity seeing our information and leave us an invitation, we accept without knowing anything of them, Just to mention some situations, a range of possibilities, that can be presented.
Immediacy and personal relationships
The immediate has become a parameter present in everything we do and our relationships of love and friendship are not excluded from this phenomenon.
To do this, just remember that a few years ago, before talking intimately with someone, we just knew, we gave our name, we made an appointment to go have a coffee and see us. There, in that first meeting, we discovered that girl or boy and we got a first impression with us. If at that first meeting, he or she liked us, we would make another appointment to go to the park and eat an ice cream and next appointment, to the cinema ... that, exactly, is what we have lost and we have come to live it all instantaneously without To think, the risks involved.
Speed, transience, desire for companionship that we face millions of human beings in the world and the need to be important to someone, is what makes us vulnerable. This scenario is the one that favors the romantic scams, that appear of fleeting way and follow a model already tried by these delinquents who rob of brazen and perverse way, leaning on the lies.
The potential victims
Among the victims there are also men but it is notorious that the most affected are women. To be a victim there is a "sine qua non" and is to be in the pursuit of love and romance. That condition is what exposes us and makes us potential victims.
We must not lose sight of the fact that when we decide to accept a scammer as a friend, we are opening the door to his master plan, which he executes in a period of fifteen to twenty days. Time in which you will know immediately our whole life, through the public information that we have provided in our accounts of social networks and that leave all our flanks discovered.
In the United States alone, according to statistics from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), in 2016, 15,000 complaints were classified as romantic scams. The losses exceeded 230 million dollars and the states with the highest incidence are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.
It all starts with a chat message; If you do not respond, insist. Once you accept your invitation, start the scam process. They send a photograph and false information, using the identity of another person. We are attracted to the idea of having found our soul mate. As in a story, we see in the swindler a charming man. His words are music to the heart and in that process, we are captivated and seduced with very sweet phrases. At the same time, the swindler will tell us an endless number of family tragedies, accidents, kidnappings or prisoners; Situations for which he will then ask for money. Until that moment and with false promises of an encounter that will never be, the swindler receives the money that you sent him and then disappear. Money never recovers, leaving only emptiness and uncertainty; In other cases, anger and impotence.
What can we do?
When you have experienced a romantic scam, it is important to accept that it can happen to anyone and it is an experience that we can learn to then prevent others.
We must bear in mind that when a deception of this magnitude has been suffered, it causes disturbing damage. Each person who faces a similar situation may experience it differently, but the most important thing is to reverse the damage, to assume what has happened to us and not to remain silent.
To begin this process, a first step is the denunciation, since without it the crime is not registered. Making the complaint will give us strength. At the same time we must develop an attitude of self-protection, being careful in the management of our social network accounts. In this aspect it is also advisable to distance ourselves from those relationships of friendship or love for the network that, from the beginning, give us signals that we are facing a con man, by his language or his behavior.
Undoubtedly, experiences like this mark a before and after. That is why we must learn to care for and manage our security, delimiting the information that is public and that which is private. A measure that protects us as well as our family and friends as scammers continue to surf the net, lurking to steal money, our illusion, our trust in others and our peace of mind.
Remember that cheated money can be quantified, but we will never know how much has been the emotional damage they have caused, because they degrade our self-esteem and hurt our honor and dignity, both for the people who were defrauded, and the soldiers who Have stolen their identity.