COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Whether people are hoping to find someone to share Valentine's Day with this year or casually scrolling through dating apps, the FBI is sharing tips to make sure people don't go looking for love in all the wrong places.
Romance scams occur when a scammer creates a fake identity online to gain a victim's trust. The scammer then creates the illusion of a relationship to steal money from the victim, according to the FBI's website.
To avoid falling victim to romance scams, the FBI advises people to:
- Be careful what is posted online. Scammers can use details shared online to better understand and target their victim.
- Take online relationships slow and ask lots of questions
- Research people's photo and profile to see if their image, name or details have been used somewhere else online, too.
- Be cautious if someone seems too perfect.
- Be cautious if someone tries to isolate you from friends and family.
- Be cautious if someone asks for inappropriate photos or financial information.
- Be suspicious if someone keeps coming up with excuses for why they can't meet in person.
- Never send money to someone you've never met in person.
The FBI says these scammers are present on most dating and social media sites. They try to establish a relationship fast and might do things such as plan to meet in person or propose marriage. But, instead of following through with those plans, they'll eventually ask for money.
Data from the Federal Trade Commission shows romance scams were one of the top five reasons for adults 30 and older losing money in 2023. It was the second-highest cause in adults 50-69.
Romance scams caused the highest loss to adults in their 60s, who lost a combined $151.9 million to romance scams in 2023. The average amount of money lost per person was around $5,000.
Adults in their 30s reported the scam the most at 6,466 romance scam reports in 2023, while adults 80 and older had the highest average loss, losing around $8,000 per report.
ABC 17 News reached out to many organizations to discuss romance scams today, but no one was available for an interview.
In an email, a spokesperson for eHarmony said the dating site has a trust and safety team to detect suspicious behavior and fraud. The site lists some red flag behaviors including if someone asks users to move a conversation off the dating platform, claims to be experiencing an emergency and needs help or asks people to share bank information.
Bumble encourages users to ask matches to video chat or call and check that a match's photo is verified, while also telling friends or family members about new connections and never hesitating to block someone. A spokesperson said the app also has a new Deception Detector to shield against fake profiles.