Did you know romance scams are the costliest type of scam for people 60 and older? That's why the FTC is spreading the word about this growing threat, which can leave victims with a broken heart and an empty bank account.
Stay Alert – Beware of Romance Scams
Beyond the job losses and economic fallout of the pandemic, the loneliness and isolation brought on by our virtual lives have real consequences. This might explain why romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020 — up about 50% from 2019. The older the victim, the heavier the financial toll, according to the FTC. The median individual loss for people aged 70 and over was $10,000, compared to $2,600 for all victims.
Romance scams can start out in a variety of ways, including scammers creating fake (but very appealing) profiles on dating apps or social media. Often the potential mate claims to live in another part of the country or to be abroad for a military deployment. But after weeks or months of conversations, romance scams always end the same way, with a made-up story about an emergency and a request to send money.
Even if this scam might not affect you, it could be happening to someone you know. Keep these things in mind:
The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do and will seem genuine, caring, and believable. But don't believe them for a second!
- If a friend or loved one mentions an online love interest, ask if they've met in person.
- It's a red flag if the love interest wants to quickly leave the dating app and communicate through email or instant messaging.
- If they haven't met in person, and that love interest asks for money, that's a scam. Period. No matter what story they tell and even if they send money or gifts first.
- Only scammers tell people to send money by gift cards, money transfer, or cryptocurrency (which are harder to trace). If your friend or loved one sends any of these, they probably won't get their money back.
- Report romance scams to the dating or social networking site, and to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Anyone who paid a romance scammer should also report it to the gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency platform.
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