According to the FBI, a massive increase in online romance scams this year has cost Americans more than $113 million since the beginning of 2021.
In the latest PSA, the federal law enforcement agency has warned about scammers using romance sites, convincing victims to transfer money to invest in or trade cryptocurrencies.
Scammers behind this sort of online fraud (also identified as confidence fraud) employ fake online identities to win potential victims’ trust on dating or social networking platforms, ultimately resulting in substantial money losses and terrible emotional scars.
After luring the victims in, the scammers leverage the pretense of a romantic connection to dupe them into transferring money or sharing financial information that may subsequently be used for other sorts of fraud schemes, such as investment frauds.
More than 1,800 complaints were received by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) relating to online romance scams in the first seven months of 2021, resulting in losses of about $133,400,000.
Here are some recommendations from the FBI on how to avoid online romance scams:
- Never send money, trade, or invest funds based entirely on the advice of someone you met online.
- Don’t give out your financial information, Social Security number, copies of your ID or passport, or other sensitive pieces of information to anybody online or to a website you don’t trust.
- Don’t reveal your current financial situation to strangers or people you don’t know.
- Individuals that claim to have exclusive investment possibilities and push you to act quickly should be avoided.
- If an online investing or trading site advertises incredible profits, it’s probably just that.
The FBI advises those who have fallen into such a scam to immediately stop interacting with the scammer and register a complaint with the IC3. Victims should also contact their bank to determine whether any money transfers they performed can still be stopped or reversed.