Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

This is how to escape from the clutches of a financial predator

A financial predator can steal your money and abuse your trust, especially they manage to separate you from your friends and family.

We see it in TV shows and even hear about it from people we know how a financial predator fleeced someone the pretended to be in love with and left them destitute, without a cent to their name. In most cases the victim paid over the money willingly, but in all cases the important thing is to escape from the clutches of a financial predator.

Dirty John, the Tinder Swindler, The Most Hated Man on the Internet. It seems like our screens are currently ablaze with stories surrounding those who mislead, exploit or abuse others for their own financial gain. But despite this growing awareness, it still happens every day and you never seem to think it can happen to you.

“A financial predator typically targets vulnerable individuals: They identify weakness in someone and then work to gain their trust. Once trust is established, they act to isolate their targets before pouncing,” Thabo Qoako from Momentum Metropolitan says.

Qoako says that the isolation component is important, because it is hard to exploit someone who has close ties with trusted friends and family members, “If you have strong, long-standing relationships with other people, they will tell you if they notice suspicious behaviour from someone you are involved or engaging with.”

He says the tactics of a financial predator take many forms, such as manipulation, fraud, or pressuring their targets to extract money. “They might operate through scams, schemes, theft or greedy lending practices. In the context of a relationship, a predator does not care for your well-being and stability. All they are after is the financial benefit they receive from these interactions.”

ALSO READ: How to spot an online romance scam

Common types of financial predators

Qoako says these are the three most common types of financial predators:

  • Romantic predators: They create fake online or offline personas to establish romantic relationships with their victims and eventually exploit their emotions to extort money or financial assistance.
  • Predatory lenders: These lenders target vulnerable people with high-interest loans or they use predatory lending practices, often trapping borrowers in cycles of debt.
  • Identity predators: These predators steal your personal information, such as bank account details, to commit fraud and theft.

Is it possible to be in a healthy relationship with someone who practises predatory behaviour? Qoako says absolutely not. “Once you are caught in their snare, you know that at some point you will experience financial loss and your mental well-being and close relationships will suffer.”

And like any other form of abuse, someone might deny that it is happening to them, but the reality is that it is happening and slowly destroying the victim.

“This is not a relationship of mutual respect and love. It is one-sided and motivated by greed. In most cases, once the victim is cleaned out, the predator moves on to their next target.”

Qoako points out that predators are intentional and will strike whenever given the opportunity as this is their nature. They are manipulative, deceptive, opportunistic, lack empathy and accountability and are tolerant of high risk. They are also generally repeat offenders, he says.

ALSO READ: Watch out for old and new scams that can cripple your life

How to get away and keep the predator at bay

If you are unlucky enough to come across someone who you suspect is a financial predator, how do you escape their clutches? Qoako says you should:

  • Reach out to friends and family. A predator will try to isolate you and therefore keep your circle of friends and family tight around you. These are the people who will help keep you level-headed, making it harder for the predator to exploit or continue exploiting you.
  • Stop communication. Once you realise that someone is a predator, cut all ties as soon as possible. Unfriend, unfollow, delete and block, do what you have to do to stop them from contacting you. And remember, you do not owe them any explanation.
  • Document everything. Keep track of your message history and document all transactions already done. You will need this to prove what happened.
  • Check your finances. Review your financial status to ensure that no further transactions are made using your name that you might not be aware of. Make sure the predator has no access to your money by changing passwords and cards. Again, do whatever is needed to protect yourself.
  • Report the predator and seek legal advice – fast.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits