Love is in the air! And, for many, it’s right at their fingertips. The popularity of dating apps has brought together many happy couples while giving scammers a new avenue to find victims.
In a romance scam, the scammer first creates a fake dating app profile. Then they match with and develop a relationship with their target. They chat daily to build trust. Once trust is established, the scammer makes up a story and asks for money. They may say the money is to cover an emergency or to travel to meet you.
The same scenario could happen on social media as well. The Federal Trade Commission says over a third of romance scam victims said they were first contacted on social media. This includes Facebook and Instagram, and contact was initiated through an unexpected private message.
An FTC report states that people sent $547 million to online romance scammers in 2021. One in four people used a gift card to send money to a romance scammer. Additionally, $139 million was lost through cryptocurrency payments to a romance scammer.
The FTC shares the following tips for spotting and avoiding a romance scam:
- If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down.
- Don’t send a reload, prepaid, or gift card; don’t wire money; and don’t send cryptocurrency to someone you met online.
- If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact. Tell the online app or social media platform right away, and then visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov to report it.
When talking to anyone you don’t know online, it’s important to be cautious. Never send money to someone you haven’t met, even if they are an online love interest.
For more information about romance scams and how to avoid them, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.