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Finances January 2, 2024

Romance Scammers: The Dangers of Dating Online

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Statistics show that nearly 39 percent of U.S. couples have met online, such as a dating app or website. While technology has allowed finding love in the digital age much easier and more niche to one’s interests, it doesn’t come without any danger. Romance scammers, which you may have heard referred to as a “catfish”, are scammers that create a fake profile with the motive of stealing money. These scammers can be hard to spot, as they go to extreme lengths to build up trust. This is their job, so they will talk to you throughout the day, say what you want to hear, send pictures, talk on the phone with you, etc. Their dedication knows no bounds, as they will keep up the charade for months, or even years, before asking for money. In 2021 alone, people reported a record $547 million in losses to romance scams.

Romance scammers will make up elaborate stories for why they need your financial assistance. They commonly use a medical emergency to guilt you into sending them money quickly. Typically, excuses are made as to why they can’t meet you in person but have several options for how you send them the money they’re after. Suggestions may include wiring money, buying an Amazon or iTunes gift card, and giving them the PIN code, using money transfer apps like Venmo or PayPal, or transferring cryptocurrency.

It’s important to never send money or a gift to a love interest you haven’t met in person. If you think you’ve met “the one” but something seems off, a lot can be found through a simple Google search. You can find out a lot about a person by googling their name and doing a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture.

If you‘ve been taken advantage of by a romance scammer, contact your financial institution or the company you sent money through immediately, then report it to the Federal Trade Commission ftc.gov/complaint. You should also report the incident on the site or app you met the scammer on. Don’t let this discourage you from finding love. Just use caution and be safe when dating online: there are a lot of fish – and scammers – in the sea!

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