Online Romance scams account for highest financial losses over any other consumer fraud
Are you looking for love online? According to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) there were more than 21,000 reports of romance scams with losses of $143 million in 2018. Romance scammers are increasingly found on dating sites and social media platforms.
Romance scammers use dating apps, social media, messaging apps, and forums to lure in their victims. They use fake photos along with made up names, profiles, and addresses to build trust with multiple potential victims.
The holidays through Valentine’s Day are big business for dating apps like Match.com and Grindr. Dating apps and websites are great places to meet someone, but people also connect using messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram and others.
In September 2019, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Match.com alleging that the dating site had exposed users to scammers from fraudulent profiles and made it difficult to cancel subscriptions. According to the FTC complaint, more than half of the instant messages and profile favorites came from accounts that Match had already identified as fraudulent.
Romance scammers can be incredibly convincing and patient. They take the time to establish an emotional connection and lure their victims in closer.
Read our guide on how to spot a Romance Scam.
Presidential campaign staffers were the targets of Romance scammers in 2020. The DNC warned that opposition groups were trying to infiltrate Democratic campaigns or organizations through dating sites.
It’s well known that people’s online dating profiles are a little less than accurate. But there’s a difference between using photos of yourself from when you used to be physically fit and being a scammer.
Romance Scammers are Patient
Romance 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,” says the FTC on their website.
Romance scammers take time to build trust with their online relationships before asking for gifts or money. This makes the attraction seem more real to the victim. Gift cards are a favorite of scammers as they are not traceable and cannot be traced or recovered. The romance scammer always has a reason why they cannot meet in person.
Tens of thousands of internet users fall victim to online romance scams each year. “By appealing to victims’ emotions and feigning personal connections, scammers will try to steal large sums of money and personal information,” warns the National Cyber Security Alliance.