How to escape the clutches of a financial predator
14 Mar, 2024

Thabo Qoako, Group CSI Monitoring, Evaluation and Compliance Head at Momentum Metropolitan



Dirty John, the Tinder Swindler, The Most Hated Man on the Internet – it seems our screens are currently ablaze with stories surrounding those who mislead, exploit or are abusive to others for their own financial gain. But despite this growing awareness, it’s still happening every day– yet we never seem to think it can happen to us.


Thabo Qoako at Momentum Metropolitan, says that a financial predator typically targets vulnerable individuals: “They identify weakness in another individual and then work to build their trust. Once trust is established, they act to isolate their targets before pouncing.”


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 others, they will tell you if they notice suspicious behaviour from someone you’re involved or engaging with.”


He adds that 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 cares not for the other party’s well-being and stability. All they are after is the financial benefit they receive from these interactions.”


Qoako shares the three most common types of financial predators:


  1. Romantic predators: These individuals create fake online or offline personas to establish romantic relationships with victims, eventually exploiting their emotions to extort money or financial assistance.
  2. Predatory lenders: These lenders target vulnerable individuals with high-interest loans or predatory lending practices, often trapping borrowers in cycles of debt.
  3. Identity predators: These predators steal 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 maintains absolutely not. “Once 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.


“Predators are intentional and will strike whenever given the opportunity – this is their nature. They are manipulative, deceptive, opportunistic, lack empathy and accountability and are tolerant of high risk. They’re also generally repeat offenders,” he says.


If you’re unlucky enough to come across someone who you suspect is a financial predator, how do you escape their clutches? Qoako shares five steps you should take:


  • Reach out to friends and family – as a predator will try to isolate you, keep your circle 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 don’t owe them any explanation.
  • Document everything – keep track of your message history and document all transactions if they’ve already taken place. You’ll need this.
  • 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; change passwords, change cards – do whatever is needed.
  • Report the predator and seek legal advice – fast.








@Thabo Qoako, Momentum Metropolitan
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