The romance scam, a multi-layered scheme that could cost you

Action Line

The romance scam is far too common and it’s the first step in a new multi-layered scheme. If someone is building a relationship with you via a messenger app and eventually asks for money, you could be their next target. 

“Of course the person who is trying to scam you is not here. They’re on a trip to a foreign country and what happens at this time of the scam is they’re stuck and they need help and they need money and then they ask you to send them some money,” said Roseann Freitas, Better Business Bureau Hawaii Marketplace Manager.

Once you’ve wired money, the scammer can proceed with their second step. That includes calling you and posing as Homeland Security or other law enforcement.  

“Now they call you and say that you either donated to ISIS or Al Qaeda and at this point you now need a lawyer and they’ll recommend a lawyer to you. They’ll give you the name of the lawyer and it’ll only cost you $1000. Therefore they got you a second time,” said Freitas.

Freitas says a big red flag is law enforcement will never call you and ask for money, especially over the phone. If you have any doubts, you can always call the authorities for clarification. 

“Contact Homeland Security. Call local law enforcement. Check with them that you’re not on the list. Always call those numbers directly. Never call back the numbers the scammer has given you,” said Freitas.

If you have a concern or are interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, give us a call Monday through Friday at 591-0222. You can also send an email to

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