Jennifer Vazquez

Beware This Valentine's Day: Romance-Related Scams Skyrocket, Costs People $143M in 2018 Alone, FTC Reveals

What to Know

  • Romance-related scams have skyrocketed in the last year, generating more losses than any other fraud reported, the FTC revealed
  • These types of frauds increased from 8,500 cases reported in 2015 to 21,000 cases in 2018, according to the agency
  • The losses to victims quadrupled to $143 million

Those looking for romance want to be swept off their feet — not to get swindled. However, it appears that many get caught up in scams. 

Romance-related scams have skyrocketed in the last year, generating more losses than any other fraud reported, the Federal Trade Commission revealed.

These types of frauds increased from 8,500 cases reported in 2015 to 21,000 cases in 2018, according to the agency. 

The losses to victims quadrupled to $143 million.

According to the FTC, romance scammers find their victims online by creating fake profiles on dating and social media sites, building trust and then waiting for the perfect opportunity to ask for money, often times saying it is for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. 

Additionally, these scammers often claim they are in the military or abroad as a reason why they can't meet in person.  

The FTC says that the median individual loss to a romance scam reported in 2018 was $2,600 — seven times higher than the median loss across all other fraud types.

The agency reveals that the demographics most-affected by romance-related scams are Americans between 40 and 69 years of age, but those 70 and older suffer the most monetary losses at $10,000.

So what can singles do to play it safe while dating online? According to the FTC, there are certain steps that can be taken, including:

  • Never sending money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven't met in person;
  • Talk to a trustworthy person about your new love interest and pay attention if your family and friends raise concerns since we can sometimes be blinded by the excitement of a new relationship, and;
  • Take things slowly — ask questions and pay attention to any inconsistent answers.
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