Last year, it was reported that $143 million was lost by individuals because of romance scams. And according to the FTC, this is higher than any other type of scam.
But, with the number of cases on the rise: how do romance scams work? And how can consumers protect themselves against them?
In the US alone, nearly 50 million people have tried online dating. A lot of the time, it can offer a lot of benefits to singles looking to meet a potential love interest.
However, like anything, there are risks. And one of the biggest risks is the possibility of being a victim of an online dating scam.
This happens when, after meeting someone online, the victim is asked to transfer money via transfer, or to send them gifts. This usually happens after they’ve spent time speaking to the person and that have connected with them.
The scammer might claim that the money is for a personal emergency – for instance, a sick relative. Or they could say they need the money to be able to visit the victim. The average loss in romance scams is reported to be $2,600.
The scammer will create a fake profile. Sometimes they will create a fictional person, with a fake picture, name, job, and other details. There are other occasions where they will steal somebody else’s identity.
Most of the cases that have been reported occur on social media sites and apps. However, they can also happen on social media or via email phishing.
So, how can consumers avoid these scams? This is the official advice:
- Don’t send money or gifts to anyone you haven’t met in person.
- Don’t give out card or other personal details online.
- Ask plenty of questions and keep an eye out for inconsistencies.
- Check their profile for anything suspicious.
- Use “search by image” on Google to check their photo matches the name given.
- If you have any doubts, report it to the website you’re using.