Written by: Miriam Rieck, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
I am the perfect mark. I am in my mid-50’s, appear single, have an active online presence on both Facebook and Instagram, and for about two years was pretty active on the dating apps. Bumble mainly. When I realized that most matches on a couple of other apps, namely Hinge, were scammers, I deleted my accounts. But I did not know that until after I had been scammed… that is how I learned about Romance Scams and the Predators who use social media to find their marks/victims.
You would think that in today’s technological world, romance scams and what to look for would be instantly available, but over the course of the next 11 articles, I am going to share the ins and outs of a criminal industry that has been in business since 2006 and is accumulating over a billion dollars a year from victims all over the world. This is a big industry, and it is rare that ANY of the predators perpetuating these scams get caught or prosecuted… it is a PERFECT crime.
Romance scams occur when a person adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic as the manipulation method to steal from the victim.
The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do. They are predators, and they are present on almost every dating and social media sites. I have even connected with one on a language app. They are on Meetup. You must be aware EVERY SINGLE TIME you interact with a new person in a digital format.
The scammer intends to establish a relationship and gain the deepest trust levels in the shortest time possible. The conversation lines they use have been used hundreds of times and are often crafted by actual authors who sell them to criminal rings. They are socially engineered to get as deep as possible, and when it ends, severe mental, emotional, and financial assault has taken place.
I know, I have been there. Over the course of the next 10 articles, I am going to cover the industry, where and how it started, why it is still going on, what happens to the person who has been assaulted, steps to recognize it online, and how to avoid or be wary of it, offer personal insight on how to handle it when it happens to a friend or loved one or if you are or have been a victim and are embarrassed to speak to anyone about it. I will cover the psychological, emotional, and mental damage that takes place. A lot of victims never recover.
Accompanying the articles will be my artwork.
Love for Sale was created in 2020, and it is about surviving assault. The images with their titles portray the emotional and psychological detangling that must take place between the real and the digital when you find out you have been in conversation with a romance predatory and have emotional bonds with that person. This series is autobiographical in nature.
The images are of real men. All of them were sent to me by people trying to connect via Facebook and Instagram. Some of these men have been identified in real life. Some of them are even “famous” in the sense that their images are used multiple times.
It is not uncommon for certain men’s images that produce a high level of “financial gain”; in other words, using this person’s images net high return in the form of financial gain for the predator/criminal that the stolen images are sold repeatedly to different criminals for use.
Miriam Rieck, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Miriam is a survivor of several Romance Predator digital relationships. The realization that you have trusted and been assaulted leads to grief, shame, financial losses, and a shattered self-image. Miriam is one of a handful of people who willingly stands up to share her story. She does this eloquently and frequently through her work as an artist, advocate, and speaker. Her goal is to change the perspective that this is #everyonesfight. In August of 2020, Exposed LLC was started as a company website that seeks to be a one-site stop for other Romance Predator Survivors.