As Valentine’s Day approaches, romance scams are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that this popular scam has risen 50% since 2019 and more than fourfold since 2016. Last year, consumers reported losing $304 million to romance scams. The FTC also shared that people aged 40-69 were the most likely to report losing money to these scams and people 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $9,475.
Romance scams can be easy to fall victim to, especially for those individuals who are looking for companionship.
These scams largely take part over the internet, through online dating websites and social media.
There are several major signs that will quickly alert you to this form of fraud. The first sign being that the person you are in contact with will profess their love for you quickly. Also, often times the scammer will claim to be from the United States, but say they are overseas for business or military service, preventing them from meeting in person. Other times, the person will claim to want to meet, but never will due to an emergency. The FTC has also noted that the stay-at-home orders mandated during the COVID-19 pandemic have provided an additional excuse for romance scammers to refuse meeting in person.
Ultimately, the main goal of the fraudster is to steal your money. Often times they will claim they need money for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel. According to the FTC, those who have fallen victim reported sending money to the scammer most often by wire transfer or gift cards. The fraudster might even suggest the idea of sharing a bank account or requesting the victims account information.
If you think you have been a victim of this type of scam or are currently in a relationship that displays these red flags, please let us know. We are here to protect you and care for your financial wellbeing.