Romance Scams Are On The Rise
February is often referred to as the “romance month”. Unfortunately, the idea of facing Valentine’s day without a “special someone” may lead some unsuspecting people to be more vulnerable to online Romance Scams. While young people are more likely to fall victim to online scams overall, older people are more susceptible to romance scams.
According to the FTC, in a pattern that accelerated during the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic, romance scams claimed $139 million from adults age 60 and older in 2020, this is up from $84 million the year before.
You might be in a Romance Scam if your new “special someone”….
- After initial contact on a legitimate dating site, requests that you communicate by e-mail or messaging service
- Avoids communicating “face-to-face”, including Face Time calls or any other type of video chat
- Calls you their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, although you have never met
- Claims to be from the U.S., but is living, working or traveling abroad
- Claims that your relationship is “destiny” or “fate”
- Shares a picture of themselves that could be a model from a magazine
- Asks for gift cards, reloadable cards, a wire transfer, for any reason, before you have met in person
- Asks for financial support to pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses, for any type of medical expenses, to pay custom fees to retrieve something, pay off a debt, or pay for traveling documents
- Has made plans to meet you, but something has always come up
- Tells you they are in the military stationed in another country
- Uses odd grammar or spelling
- Asks to send a large sum of money to your credit union account
- Asks for personal information, such as your birthday, credit union account information, Social Security Number, home address and Zip code, names of your pets and children, or password
- Told you that someone close to them has been in an accident, or other type of crisis, and needs money
- Suddenly adds you on social media and begins conversations that quickly lead to romance
- Is drastically younger than you are
While none of these red flags is a sure indicator of a romance scam, any one of them should trigger the need to be cautious, and be a reminder to NEVER send money in any form to someone you have not met in person.
If you believe, or someone close to you, is a victim of an online scam, it should be reported it to the FBI by calling: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or online at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov).