A record year for romance scams

$4,000,000 stolen in romance scam

By Greg Collier

The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report that said that Americans lost a total of around $304 million to romance scams in 2020. That’s a 50% increase since 2019. For the third year in a row, romance scams were listed as the number one scam that was reported to the FTC. The actual amount of money lost is probably even higher since many victims are too embarrassed to ever come forward. The pandemic was cited as the main reason why there was such a spike in romance scam activity. Seniors over 70 lost a median amount of close to $10,000 each while people in their 20s saw the biggest increase in d=falling for these scams.

However, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. While most of our readers already know what a romance scam is, it doesn’t hurt to explain it to new readers. A romance scam is when a victim meets someone online who isn’t who they say they are. The scammers will often use the photo of someone they found online, often a member of the military but not always. The scammer will lead the victim to believe that they are in some kind of romantic relationship, but the scammer will keep making excuses as to why they can’t meet in public. Usually, the scammer will say they’re either deployed overseas or they’re working out of the country. Before too long, the scammer will start asking the victim for money. In some cases the money will be or gifts, or the scammer will claim they need the money for some kind of emergency. The scammers will keep asking for money until the victim realizes they’re being scammed. The scam has been known to find victims in both men and women.

In a lot of romance scams, it’s often hard for the victim to believe they’re being scammed. There have been cases where the victim got into legal trouble after stealing money to send to their fictitious romantic partner. As a friend or family member, it may be up to you to do the detective work for them. Do a reverse image search of the photo being used by the scammer. You’ll often find that the picture was stolen from someone with a completely different identity. Also do a search for the job the scammer is claiming to have and include the word ‘scammer’ in the search.

If you feel like someone you know might be the victim of a romance scam, please let them know before it’s too late.