Criminal fraud is an act intended to deceive someone by making a false representation of a fact. The victim relies on that false fact to their legal detriment. The victim of fraud can be an organization, person, or company. One type of fraud that is typically carried out against an individual is called a romance scam or romance fraud.
What Is a Romance Scam?
A romance scam is a confidence trick where an individual makes false claims to a victim during a courtship to obtain property or money. The individual makes romantic intentions toward their victim in order to gain their affections. Once the victim feels comfortable, the perpetrator of the scam uses that goodwill to obtain money and/or property from their victim.
What Is the Goal of Romance Fraud?
An individual carrying out romance fraud usually does so for their personal financial benefit. The individual makes false statements to gain the victim’s trust to obtain access to the victim’s:
- Bank accounts
- Credit cards
- Email accounts
- Social security number
Do Romance Scams Happen via the Internet?
The Internet is a popular tool for scam artists who wish to commit romance fraud because it is easier to meet victims and build a false sense of a romantic relationship before the victim realizes that the relationship is false. One common way that scammers use the Internet to their advantage is through “catfishing”.
What Is Catfishing?
Catfishing occurs when an individual posts a profile using a borrowed, purchased, or stolen photograph of an attractive person. Using this fake profile, the scammer then asks people to contact them. The scammer and victim exchange emails, posts, or letters to each other during the “grooming” period. Once the scammer feels they have gained the victim’s confidence, they will ask for money or other assets.
Is Fraud in the Inducement the Same as Romance Fraud?
No. Fraud in the inducement is a certain type of contract fraud where one party uses trickery or deceit to obtain an advantage. That advantage is generally for the victim to do what the perpetrator wants, which is usually something other than just giving them money or gifts. Romance scams are often limited to inducing one party to give over money or property.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Accused of Romance Fraud?
Romance fraud is a serious crime, even if it does not seem like it because the you may feel that the victim also benefited from the scam by receiving your time and energy. However, you can still face prison time and fines for your illegal actions.Depending on the circumstances, you may even be charged with identity theft if your scheme involved catfishing and using another's identity in the process. To understand more about the charge and available defenses, contact a criminal lawyer.