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Watch out: Romance scams rising sharply

Online_dating_scams_feb2020_enConsumers reported losing $201 million to romance scams in 2019 – up nearly 40 percent since 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Romance scammers prey on consumers who are looking for love, converting what feels like a budding relationship into an ask for money to help the scammer get out of some manufactured crisis. The stories and feelings can be compelling, and the losses can be huge.

In 2019, more than 25,000 consumers filed a report with the FTC about romance scams, and over the past two years total reported losses to romance scams were higher than to any other scam reported to the FTC.

If a new romantic interest asks you to send money, don’t do it. It’s a romance scam.

Here are tips from the FTC to avoid romance scams:

  • Stop communicating with the person immediately.
  • Search online for the type of job the person says they have. See if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “U.S. Army scammer.”
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. If it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam. 
  • Never wire money to a stranger, or pay anyone with gift cards. If someone asks you to wire money or pay with gift cards, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

More information on romance scams is available on the FTC’s romance scam page and in a video. Information about FTC complaint data can be found at ftc.gov/exploredata, and consumers can file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.

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