Many people are looking for love online, and the search is even more common now during the pandemic. Scammers are looking for people to target, and they are happy to break hearts to get money. Here are a few things you should know so you don’t find yourself left poor and heartbroken by a scammer.
4 Facts About Romance Scams
1. Losses of $475M were reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2019.
According to the IC3, “In 2019, almost 20,000 complaints categorized as romance scams were reported to IC3 (about 1,000 more than the previous year), and the losses associated with those complaints exceeded $475 million.”
2. Reported romance scams are up nearly 20% in 2020.
The Better Business Bureau’s BBB Scam Tracker reports that romance scams have increased 20% during the pandemic, as compared to 2019.
3. Around 25,000 people filed FTC reports about romance scams in 2019 with an average loss of $8,000 per person.
Data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that over 25,000 consumers filed reports about romance scams in 2019. Additionally, the FTC states that “…consumers reported losing $201 million to romance scams,” during the same year.
4. Romance scams are the #1 way that people aged 40-79 lose money from scams.
The FTC’s Age and Fraud report shows that in 2020, people aged 40-79 have been defrauded of the most money in romance scams.
Common Tactics of Romance Scams
Scammers use many tricks during romance scams, but the outcomes are similar. Here are some common tactics:
- Requests of money for emergencies. The scammers profess their love and offer marriage, but they can’t meet in person because they live too far away. Then they claim that an emergency has occurred, and they need money. In 2020, some scammers claim that they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need money for treatment. After their target sends money, the scammer vanishes.
- Investment opportunities. The scammer tries to lure victims into investing by asking victims to wire money to them or sending them links to “investment applications”. These links are malicious or phishing links, designed to trick the victim into sending sign in and personal information to the scammers.
Tip: Check if links are safe withTrend Micro Check. Simply send the link to Trend Micro Check for immediate scam detection.
- Offers or gifts. The scammers claim that they want to send a gift from overseas, but a tariff or shipment fee is needed to send the goods. They ask the victim to wire money or send them prepaid cards and once they get the money, they disappear.
- Intimate messages. Many victims have reported sextortion after exchanging private photos or having intimate video chats. The scammers threaten to share the explicit images/screenshots to the victim’s contacts unless they receive money.
5 Signs of Romance Scam
Is your online crush really a scammer? Look for these signs:
- They live in another country, or far from you.
- The profile seems too good to be true.
- They ask you for money.
- There are always excuses for not meeting you in person.
- They write in poor English.
If any of these are true, your online relationship might actually be a romance scam. Be the one who got away!
5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Romance Scams
- Do a reverse image search on the person’s photo to see if they are a catfisher. Romance scammers fake their online profiles and use other people’s photos and information.
- Don’t wire money to people that you only know from the internet. Requests for money should be a major red flag.
- Never give out your personal information. Avoid sharing phone numbers, addresses, passwords to bank accounts, and other identifying information. Be smart with your personal information to avoid identity theft and other scams.
- Think before you click on any links. UseTrend Micro Check first!
- If you suspect a romance scam, contact the FTC, FBI, or the social media network where you met the person online.
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