Valentine’s Day is this weekend, so over the next three days, we’re talking about romance scams. Lots of people have profiles on dating apps to meet someone — maybe even more so in these virtual times. And many people have built successful relationships from an online start. But what if, instead of finding a potential partner, you find a scam?
Romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020. That’s up about 50% from 2019.
So how can you spot a romance scam? Check out this video, and watch this space for more tips and tools in the next couple of days. And share the video, and what you learn. You might not need the info yourself, but you probably know someone who does.
So how can you play it safe while looking for love online? Here are some tips to help you steer clear of scammers:
· Never send money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in person – even if they send you money first.
· Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. It can be easy to miss things that don’t add up. So pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
· Take it slowly. Ask questions and look for inconsistent answers.
· Try a reverse-image search of the profile pictures. If they’re associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam.
· Learn more at ftc.gov/romancescams.
Help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platform. Then, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
It should also be noted that love scams can start in online games that are downloaded onto a cell phone like Words With Friends and through social media platforms.
So how do you spot a romance scammer? Here are some things to watch for:
• Any love interest who asks you to give them money on a gift card, by money transfer, or cryptocurrency is a scammer. Period.
• Romance scammers profess love quickly. They might say they can’t meet you because they’re overseas for business or military service — but, during the pandemic, they might just say they’re locked down.
• Romance scammers might try to lure you off the dating site.
• Scammers will find a reason to ask you for money — maybe to buy a phone card to keep chatting, maybe to help with a “medical emergency,” or maybe something else.