Romance Fraud (Or Online Dating Scams)

As online dating has become more common, there has also been an increase in scams targeting users of online dating sites. A romance scam is a trick where someone pretends to have romantic feelings for a victim, gains their trust, and then uses that relationship to commit fraud. Usually, the crook misleads a victim online and then talks the victim into sending money, sharing personal and financial information, or laundering money for the crook.

According to FBI reports, the scams happened 18,493 times last year with a cost of $363 million.  Although the victims tend to be older widowed or divorced women, the scam can happen to anyone who uses social media and dating sites.

The FBI lists the following as common warning signs for anyone active on social media and dating apps:

  • Someone online wants you to leave the app to talk solely through email or instant messaging.
  • A connection sends you a photo that looks like a glamour shot out of a magazine.
  • Someone online says they love you quickly and tries to isolate you from friends and family.
  • Someone claims to be working and living far away.
  • A connection makes plans to visit you, but then always has to cancel because of some emergency.
  • Someone asks for money or your help moving money.

The FTC explains that romance scammers are hard at work wooing people on dating apps and social media.  They may lift photos to create an attractive profile or even steal the identity of a real person.

The FTC lists the following as ways you can avoid 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.
  • Talk to family and friends about new love interests and pay attention to their concerns.
  • If you suspect a romance scam, cut off contact right away.
  • Report the scam to the FTC at
  • Notify the dating or social media site where you met the scammer.

Remember that romance fraud relies on manipulation and a willing participant.  Security awareness is our best defense for any kind of social media attack.  Stay aware of common scams and refuse to participate.

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