The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working to raise awareness about online romance scams, also called confidence fraud, specifically among single adults over the age of 55. In this type of fraud, scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating websites, apps, or social media, with the ultimate goal of financially exploiting the victims.
The consequences of these scams are often financially and emotionally devastating to victims; they rarely get their money back and may not have the ability to recover from the financial loss.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which provides the public with a means of reporting Internet-facilitated crimes, romance scams result in greater financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes. In 2019, almost 20,000 complaints categorized as romance scams were reported to IC3 (about 1,000 more than the previous year), and the losses associated with those complaints exceeded $475 million. In Idaho last year, the IC3 received nearly 100 complaints from victims reporting more than $1 million in losses related to romance scams.
The criminals who carry out romance scams are experts at what they do. If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online, consider the following:
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Go slow and ask questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to go “offline.”
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person, but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, stop all contact immediately and file a complaint online at ic3.gov.