Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – America’s consumer protection agency – has announced that nearly 70,000 people reported romance scams and reported losses hit a “staggering” $1.3 billion with a median reported loss of $4,400 in 2022, according to a “Data Spotlight” from the FTC.

“These scammers pay close attention to the information you share, and don’t miss a beat becoming your perfect match. You like a thing, so that’s their thing, too. You’re looking to settle down. They’re ready too. But there is one exception – you want to meet in real life, and they can’t,” the “Data Spotlight” posted in February 2023 warned.

The FTC reported that 40% of people who said they lost money to a romance scam last year said the contact started on social media while 19% said it started on a website or app. Many people reported that the scammer quickly moved to WhatsApp, Google Chat, or Telegram. So how can you spot a romance scammer in the act?

  • Nobody legit will ever ask you to help – or insist that you invest – by sending cryptocurrency, giving the numbers on a gift card, or by wiring money. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  • If someone tells you to send money to receive a package, you can bet it’s a scam.
  • Talk to friends or family about a new love interest and pay attention if they’re concerned.
  • Try a reverse image search of profile pictures. If the details don’t match up, it’s a scam.

The FTC reported that people sending money to romance scammers using cryptocurrency and bank wires accounted for more than 60% of reported losses to these scams in 2022 while gift cards were used to send money by 24% of victims who reported they had lost money to a romance scam in 2022.

The FTC warns that “romance scammers tell lies to steal your heart and money.” Help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platform and then tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Victims of extortion should report it to the FBI. Learn more at ftc.gov/romancescams

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