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Don't Become A Victim
People looking for romance are hoping to be swept off their feet, not caught up in a scam. But tens of thousands of reports show that a scam is what many people find. In 2018, the FTC received more than 21,000 reports about romance scams, and people reported losing a total of $143 million – that’s more than any other consumer fraud type reported!
Romance scammers lure people with phony online profiles, often lifting photos from the web to create attractive and convincing personas. They might make up names or assume the identities of real people. Reports indicate the scammers are active on dating apps, but also on social media sites that aren’t generally used for dating. For example, many people say the scam started with a Facebook message.
Once these fraudsters have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money, often for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. They often claim to be in the military and stationed abroad, which explains why they can’t meet in person. Pretending to need help with travel costs for a long-awaited visit is another common ruse. The fraudster typically requests for the money to wired or placed on reloadable gift cards, both which are nearly impossible to recover.
Scammers can reap large rewards for time spent courting their targets. The median individual loss to a romance scam reported in 2018 was $2,600, about seven times higher than the median loss across all other fraud types.* People often reported sending money repeatedly for one supposed crisis after another.
Individuals from 40 to 69 years of age report losing money to romance scams at the highest rates – more than twice the rate of people in their 20s.* However, individuals 70 and over reported the highest individual median losses at $10,000.*