By posing as potential mates, scammers prey on those looking for love connections, often through dating services, apps, or social media. They use emotional manipulation to persuade you to donate money, gifts, or personal information. Scammers on dating services are masters of social manipulation, making them particularly difficult to catch.
Criminals conduct considerable research on their victims, scouring social media for personal information. Scammers create a character that shares the same interests and values as their targets in order to make their profiles enticing to them. You could be the victim of a dating scammer, even if you believe you can detect a Tinder con from a mile away. Victims of romance scams lost $547 million in 2021, more than any other sort of fraud, demonstrating that matters of the heart may obscure even the finest judgment.
You could be the victim of a dating scammer, even if you believe you can detect a Tinder con from a mile away. In the United States alone, 24,000 people lost $1 billion to romance scams last year, with much more likely going undetected. These scams have a significant impact on both dating services and their consumers. It can bring misery and poverty for consumers, as a single successful romance scam can steal millions of dollars. In the meantime, failing to combat scammers can result in serious brand damage for dating services.
Victims of Online Romance Scams
Romance scams are both profitable and simple to commit. Furthermore, they frequently allow a criminal to remain anonymous while conducting his or her crimes. While anyone can be a victim of a romance scam, women account for 63 percent of romance scam victims. Victims of romance scams are often about 50 years old.
MTV’s Catfish has been around long enough to teach us that when it comes to online dating, a little super-sleuthing goes a long way. Unfortunately, the show is still going strong, and people are still being duped.
Many romance con artists follow the same ‘playbook.’ Specific lines in these playbooks are utilized to make a person fall in love. Romance con artists frequently claim to work in the building and construction industries in another country. Others will claim to be military personnel serving in a foreign country. They’ll also have a long list of reasons why they can’t converse on the phone.
Online dating might help you find long-term love – or just your next fling. However, according to FTC studies, it also provides an opportunity for scammers. In the last five years, people have reported losing a total of $1.3 billion to romance scams, more than any other FTC fraud category. The numbers have risen dramatically in recent years, and 2021 was no exception, with recorded losses reaching a new high of $547 million. That’s over six times the losses reported in 2017 and a rise of nearly 80% from 2020. The average person reported a $2,400 loss in 2021.
According to reports, romance scammers are masters of deception. They establish phony online profiles with photos taken from the internet. They even take on the identities of genuine people on occasion. They may gather information from social media and then appear to share similar interests. And the personal information they reveal will always include built-in justifications for not meeting in person. Many of them, for example, claim to be serving in the military or working on an offshore oil rig.
Many victims of scams say they were approached using dating apps. A romance scammer doesn’t have to be looking for love to court you. Unexpected private messages on social media networks are a typical occurrence. More than a third of individuals who lost money in an online romance scam said it began on Facebook or Instagram in 2021.
To deceive people, romance fraudsters use a variety of plausible claims, but their old standard is pleading for help while alleging one financial or health issue after another. Scammers’ stories may include a sick child or a temporary incapacity to access money for a variety of reasons.
Individuals who have lost money to a romance scammer usually report regularly giving money in the mistaken belief that they are helping a loved one. It’s all a lie, though.
As a favor to their purported sweetheart, people volunteer to help move money in another variation of the romance scam. The con artist frequently pretends to want assistance in obtaining an inheritance or transferring monies for a crucial business transaction. People are often persuaded to become “money mules” by hearing stories like this; they may think they’re merely assisting, but they’re actually laundering stolen dollars. People are often duped into sending their own money using these claims. People have reported paying a variety of fictitious fees in order to accept money that never arrives. Others claim to have deposited a check from their sweetheart and sent some of the money as directed, only to discover later that the check was a forgery, leaving them without the funds they sent. Others claim to have sent money based on promises of repayment that were later revealed to be bogus.
In 2021, reports of romantic scams grew for all age groups. The increase was especially noticeable among those aged 18 to 29. From 2017 to 2021, the number of reports for this age group climbed by more than tenfold. However, the reported median loss grew with age, with persons aged 70 and above reporting the highest individual median losses of $9,000, compared to $750 for those aged 18 to 29.