Editor’s note: Here’s a press release from the Federal Trade Commission, February 12, 2019:
New FTC Data Spotlight details big jump in losses, complaints about romance scams
Scammers who use love to target consumers not only take an emotional toll on their victims, but can also take a financial one as well. New complaint data released today by the Federal Trade Commission shows romance scams generated more reported losses than any other consumer fraud type reported to the agency in 2018.
In the last three years, many more consumers have reported romance scams to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database, with much higher total reported losses from those scams, according to the Commission’s latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight. The number of romance scams reported to the FTC has grown from 8,500 in 2015 to more than 21,000 in 2018, while reported losses to these scams more than quadrupled in recent years—from $33 million in 2015 to $143 million last year. For those who said they lost money to a romance scam, the median reported loss was $2,600, with those 70 and over reporting the biggest median losses at $10,000.
Romance scammers often find their victims online through a dating site or app or via social media. These scammers create phony profiles that often involve the use of a stranger’s photo they have found online. The goals of these scams are often the same: to gain the victim’s trust and love in order to get them to send money through a wire transfer, gift card, or other means.
The Spotlight offers tips about how to spot romance scams and avoid losing money to them.
How to avoid romance scams
The FTC’s Division of Consumer Information offers the following tips on avoiding romance scams:
- Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
- Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers. Check the person’s photo using your search engine’s “search by image” feature. If the same picture shows up with a different name, that’s a red flag.
- Talk to someone about this new love interest. And pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
- If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away. Then, report to the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the dating site where you met the scammer, too.
For more information, visit:
Romance scams will cost you, on Consumer.FTC.gov.