A person texting "how much money do you need?"
Romance scams happen when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. They may reach out to you through social media, a dating app, or through email. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2022, romance scams:
  • Affected 19,050 reported victims;
  • Made scammers more than $739 million of stolen funds.
The scammer builds up a relationship using the illusion of romance or a close friendship and preys on those emotions to get you to give them money or account information. They often try to establish trust quickly, including professing true love. Criminals will also tell stories of great loss or struggle to further their scam while getting us emotionally invested.

Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to target you. They’ll invest a lot of time – months and months – if they think they’ll get a payoff. And by the time you have realized what has happened, the scammer has gone silent, unresponsive, taking what they can. 

How to Avoid Romance Scams

If you develop a relationship with someone you meet online, follow these tips, and beware of the red flags, courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):
  • Think twice before you share personal information online. Scammers can use details shared on dating sites and social media platforms to better target victims.
  • If you try online dating, only use dating sites with well-known reputations. Search people’s photos and profiles online to see if anyone has used the names, images, or information elsewhere.
  • Beware of online suitors who try to isolate you from your family or friends.
  • Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met in person.
  • Go slowly and ask the other person lots of questions.
  • If you notice older family members using new communications apps or dating sites, explain the red flags and pitfalls so they don’t fall victim to these criminals.

If communication is established through a dating app or social site and the person is requesting to take the conversation offline right away, this is a red flag. Criminals will often try to direct us to use another app to avoid the monitoring capabilities in dating apps or social sites.

And it’s OK to be suspicious, especially if you receive a friend request or a direct private message from someone you don’t know. You should also be suspicious if the individual promises to meet in person, but then always comes up with an excuse why they can’t or needs financial assistance in order for the meet up to happen.