Becky Holmes knows how to throw a romance scammer off script—simply bring up cannibalism.
In January, Holmes shared on Twitter that an account with the name "Thomas Smith" had started up a random chat with her that sounded an awful lot like the beginning stages of a romance scam. But rather than instantly ignoring and blocking the advances—as Holmes recommends everyone do in these types of situations—she first had a little fun.
"I was hoping that you'd let me eat a small part of you when we meet," Holmes said. "No major organs or anything obviously. I'm not weird lol."
By just a few messages later, "Thomas Smith" had run off, refusing to respond to Holmes' follow-up requests about what body part she fancied, along with her preferred seasoning (paprika).
Romance scams are a serious topic. In 2022, the US Federal Trade Commission reported that, in the five years prior, victims of romance scams had reported losing a collective $1.3 billion. In just 2021, that number was $547 million, and the average amount of money reported stolen per person was $2,400. Worse, romance scammers themselves often target vulnerable people, including seniors, widows, and the recently divorced, and they show no remorse when developing long-lasting online relationships, all built on lies, so that they can emotionally manipulate their victims into handing over hundreds or thousands of dollars.
But what would you do if you knew a romance scammer had contacted you and you, like our guest on today's Lock and Code podcast with host David Ruiz, had simply had enough? If you were Becky Holmes, you'd push back.
For a couple of years now, Holmes has teased, mocked, strung along, and shut down online romance scammers, much of her work in public view as she shares some of her more exciting stories on Twitter. There's the romance scammer who she scared by not only accepting an invitation to meet, but ratcheting up the pressure by pretending to pack her bags, buy a ticket to Stockholm, and research venues for a perhaps too-soon wedding. There's the scammer she scared off by asking to eat part of his body. And, there's the story of the fake Brad Pitt:
" My favorite story is Brad Pitt and the the dead tumble dryer repairman. And I honestly have to say, I don't think I'm ever going to top that. Every time ...I put a new tweet up, I think, oh, if only it was Brad Pitt and the dead body. I'm just never gonna get better."
Tune in today to hear about Holmes' best stories, her first ever effort to push back, her insight into why she does what she does, and what you can do to spot a romance scam—and how to safely respond to one.
Show notes and credits:
Intro Music: “Spellbound” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Outro Music: “Good God” by Wowa (unminus.com)
Looking to accelerate your business? Our 2023 State of Malware report will equip you with the cybersecurity strategies you need to protect against the five most dangerous cyberthreats facing businesses this year.
Download and read the report here at www.malwarebytes.com/som.
And for a discussion on the most important takeaways from the 2023 State of Malware, watch our on-demand Threat Down webinar.