Fiona, 43, thought that she had finally found the perfect guy in Steve. An Australian based in Dubai, he was charming, funny, and sweet. Fiona was instantly smitten.
After chatting online for 4 months, Steve told Fiona that his wallet had been stolen, and he needed to borrow money to tide him over until his new credit cards came in. Fiona didn’t think twice. Fiona wired over the money, then never heard from him again.
Sadly, Fiona’s case isn’t an isolated one. Billions of dollars are lost every year to scams that range from romance scams to pyramiding scams to “Nigerian prince” scams. And though it’s been found that men are more likely to be victims of scams, some scams still work particularly well on women.
Scams women fall for:
When it comes to scams, ignorance is not bliss. The first step to protecting yourself against them is knowing about them.
Here are just some scams that women are particularly susceptible to.
1. Weight loss schemes, anti-ageing scams
With so much pressure to measure up to society’s impossibly high beauty standards, many women get carried away at the tiniest promise of instant weight loss However, most of the time, they are scams.
These weight loss contraptions and anti-ageing scams have been around for centuries. But the fact of the matter is, you still need to diet and exercise to lose weight. And before you buy into the snake oil salesman’s pitch, remember that there is no such thing as the fountain of youth. Wrinkles are normal, and we all get old. That’s perfectly fine.
2. Sweetheart scams
Sweetheart scams are (sadly) so commonplace that we’ve all heard stories about them, yet so many still fall victim to them.
“The most successful scams are carried out on women between the ages of 40 and 60,” psychologist Emma Kenny tells The Telegraph. She explains that because older men tend to date younger women, plenty of middle-aged women find themselves partnerless and lonely. The lonelier you are, the more vulnerable you are to these kinds of scams.
“This emotional vulnerability can cause them to make bad choices,” Kenny continues. “Quite often, a woman will go for someone who validates her, and she might reveal a lot of personal information early on, which enables predators.”
As in Fiona’s case, these scams take some time because the scammer has to establish trust. Then, after that relationship has been built, the scammer asks the victim for money, usually citing some sort of an emergency. Then, predictably, they disappear.
3. “Blessing” scams
A classic scam in China involves a group of scammers preying on Asian superstitious beliefs. How does it work? Posing as spiritual doctors, the perpetrators approach their target—usually an older Chinese woman—to tell her that her family is cursed.
The scammers then say that they can reverse the curse with a blessing ritual involving a bag of money and jewellery. But once the victim gives them these valuables, the scammer swaps it for another bag filled with bottles of water, leaving the victim with nothing.
4. Petty fraud
According to a study conducted by American nonprofit AARP Foundation, women are more likely to be victims of petty fraud schemes like prescription drug and identity theft scams. The prescription drug scam offers victims a drug discount for a fee, while the identity theft scam offered fake protection from identity theft.
What do they both have in common? The discount or insurance doesn’t exist, and the scammer, like always, just disappears with the money.
How can you protect yourself from these scams?
First of all, we should all keep in mind that all of us are targets. Being aware that these scams exist is the first step to protecting yourself, but there are other things you can do to protect yourself. Remember these things:
- Don’t open suspicious looking texts, emails, or pop-ups. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
- Make sure that your personal details are secure.
- Secure your mobile devices and computers secure with passwords.
- Choose passwords that are difficult to guess, and update them regularly.
- Check your privacy settings on social media to make sure you’re not oversharing to the public.
- Any requests for your financial details or money should trigger your alarm bells.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.