Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revealed that would-be lovers reported losing a staggering $1.3 billion in the past five years and a record $547 million in 2021 to “romance scams” that are committed during online dating which creates opportunities for scammers, according to a blog from the FTC.
The FTC said the number of “romance scams” has skyrocketed in recent years and the record high loss of $547 million in 2021 was more than six times the reported loss in 2017 and a nearly 80 percent increase compared to 2020, more than any other FTC fraud category. The median individual reported loss in 2021 was $2,400.
“Reports show that romance scammers are masters of disguise. They create fake online profiles with attractive photos swiped from the web. Sometimes they even assume the identities of real people. They may study information people share online and then pretend to have common interests,” the FTC blog explained.
“Romance scammers weave all sorts of believable stories to con people, but their old standby involves pleas for help while claiming one financial or health crisis after another. People who lost money to a romance scammer often report sending money repeatedly: they believe they’re helping someone they care about. But it’s all a lie.”
Reports about romance scams increased most strikingly for people ages 18 to 29, where the number of reports increased more than tenfold from 2017 to 2021. But the reported median loss increased with age as people 70 and older reported individual median losses at $9,000 compared to $750 for the 18 to 29 age group.
The FTC blog offers tips on how to spot romance scammers to people looking for love online. Would-be lovers can help stop romance scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to dating apps, social media platforms, and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Learn more about romance scams at ftc.gov/romancescams.
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