What to do if you suspect a scam

Do you suspect that a person who has contacted you is not completely honest, or that a person who wants to be in a relationship with you is too good to be true? Here is a list of some things you can do to find out if your online correspondent is a possible scammer.

Stage 1:

Google the person:
  • Does a Google search turn up any information about the person?
  • If so, does the online information correspond to what they have provided about themselves?

Stage 2:

Use Google’s reverse image search:

  1. Save the image of the person on your computer (right-click the image > select “Save” > save the image on your desktop or somewhere else where it is easy to find).
  2. Direct your browser to www.google.com>searchbyimage
  3. Open the folder (Desktop) where you saved the image. Drag the image with your mouse to the input field on Google Image Search as described in the link.
  4. Google will respond with links to sites where the same image is used. It is also possible that the image cannot be found on the Internet. However, if Google does find the image, check the sites where the image is found: are the sites somehow linked to your online connection? If not, do the sites provide some other identity for the person in the image? If the answer is yes, it is possible that your new online friend is using someone else’s picture as their own.

Stage 3:

Use a web page analytics tool to check the websites where the image of your online connection is found:

  1. Point your browser to www.scamadviser.com
  2. Enter the full Internet address (URL) of the connection’s website in the search box in the centre of the page.
  3. The tool will tell you the age of the webpage (how long it has been online) and the place/country from which the website is managed. If there is something suspicious about the site, the tool will alert you with a large, orange-yellow warning triangle and details at the top of the search results.
  4. Compare the information provided by the original site and the information you have about your contact or their site with the information provided by the analytics tool. For example, many corporate websites list their business ID at the bottom of the page, along with contact information and when the site was created. The site may also contain information about when the company was established and other similar data. If this information does not match the information provided by the analytics tool, you should view the website with suspicion.

Stage 4:

  • You can also make a reverse image search with pictures found on the website. If, for example, the images on the website can be found on the website of another company, that may be cause for concern.
  • Very carefully check the bank account information you received from your online friend:
    • Check the actual country of the account number you received by using the country code system: It is suspicious if your contact wants you to send money to, for example, Great Britain if they are in Dubai, or vice versa. Keep in mind that most of the time there is no good reason for this, even if your contact says so.
    • If you are not sure to whom or to which country you are transferring money, you can always ask your bank’s customer service. List of country codes from the website of Finnish Financial Supervision Authority .
  • If your online friend gives you the contact information of a foreign bank official, try to contact the official via the telephone number listed on the bank’s own website – do not contact the official using the email or phone number supplied by your connection. This way you can make sure that the bank official or official of some other company/institution actually exists and works in that company/institution.
  • Carefully and critically examine all contact details you receive:
    • Do the country calling codes of telephone numbers match the story told to you by your online friend? For instance, if your contact gives you a phone number beginning with +358 and the contact says that the number is for a phone in Ireland, you should be suspicious, because the telephone country code +358 belongs to Finland. List of country calling codes on Wikipedia Wikipedia.
    • The format of email addresses of officials in companies and government agencies are almost without exception firstname.familyname@companyname.com. If this is not the case, it should raise doubts. Again, be careful – the only difference might be that two letters have switched places in the address.

Do you think you may have been the victim of a romance scam?

Have you been scammed, or do you suspect you may have been a victim of a romance scam?

  • Do not send any more money to anyone,
  • be in touch with your bank,
  • report the scammer to the police, and
  • discuss your situation with Victim Support Finland. Services | Contact information