Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
Sure, you can find love online. You could also find yourself falling for a clever con artist who will gain your trust and rob you blind. It happens all too often. For the past two years, more money has been lost to romance scams than any other type of scam reported to the FTC. Romance scammers post their fake profiles on popular dating websites and apps. They also target people through direct messaging on social media sites.
For three years running, people have reported losing more money on romance scams than on any other fraud type identified in Sentinel. From toreported total dollar losses increased more than fourfold, and the of reports nearly tripled. It is reasonable to wonder: what happened in to make these dollars losses continue to spike?
How unsuspecting singles get roped into internet money-laundering
An obvious reason may be the pandemic limiting our ability to meet in person. But outside the pandemic, the share of people who have ever used an online dating site or app has also been rising. Scammers fabricate attractive online profiles to draw people in, often lifting pictures from the web and using made up names.
Some go a step further and assume the identities of real people. Once they make online contact, they make up reasons not to meet in person. The pandemic has both made that easier and inspired new twists to their stories, with many people reporting that their so-called suitor claimed to be unable to travel because of the pandemic.
Some scammers have reportedly even canceled first date plans due to a supposed positive COVID test. While many people report losing money on romance scams that start on dating apps, even more say they were targeted on social media. Sooner or later, these scammers always ask for money.
The stories are endless, and can create a sense of urgency that pushes people to send money over and over again. What many of the largest reported dollar losses have in common is that people believe their new partner has actually sent them a large sum of money. Scammers claim to have sent money for a cooked-up reason, and then have a detailed story about why the money needs to be sent back to them or on to someone else.
In fact, many reported that the money they received and forwarded on turned out to be stolen unemployment benefits.
Gift cards, along with wire transfers, are the most frequently reported payment methods for romance scams. Reports of money lost on romance scams increased for every age group in People ages 20 to 29 saw the most striking increase, with the of reports more than doubling since People ages 40 to 69 were once again the most likely to report losing money to romance scams. So how can you play it safe while looking for love online? Here are some tips to help you steer clear of scammers:.
Help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platform. It is not a survey that measures prevalence of this particular scam.
Looking for love online? romance scammers steal your heart to steal your money
IC3 reports submitted prior to were unavailable at the time of publication, so these reports were excluded to ensure greater consistency in reporting trends over time. Another 5, mentioned Facebook or Instagram. Reports that mentioned one of the specified dating apps and also Facebook or Instagram were excluded from the Facebook or Instagram figure.
Because these s have not been normalized based on the of users, they should not be understood as an indication that an individual user of Facebook or Instagram is more likely to encounter a romance scam as compared to users of these dating apps.
Gift cards include reload cards e. This age comparison is normalized based on the of loss reports per million population by age during this period. Population s were obtained from the U. It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment.
Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. So pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers.
Internet romance scams target people over 50
Try a reverse-image search of the profile pictures. Learn more at ftc. Romance Scams Spotlight I Would Like To Stay Connected with the FTC.