Monday, September 26

Romance scams on the rise, cost Americans millions, FBI and FTC say

  • Romance scammers billed Americans out of $1 billion in 2021, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Romance scams increased among all ages in 2021, with those aged 70 and up reporting the highest losses, nearly $9,000 per case, the Federal Trade Commission said.
  • Gift cards are the most likely thing romance scammers want, but cryptocurrency fraud is rising.

Valentine’s Day is behind us, but romance scams remain alive and dwell online, with fake suitors’ latest goal to get you to invest in cryptocurrency.

Romance scams, in which an online scammer leads a person on with talk of love and then swindles them, do not end after the roses and chocolates are delivered.

The FBI issued an alert last week about victims of romance fraud losing $1 billion in 2021. Similarly, romance scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission rose 80% in 2021, with victims losing $547 million.

These numbers are likely low, both agencies said. “The bottom line is most consumers are not reporting fraud when it happens and romance scams may be particularly unlikely to be reported because there can be a lot of embarrassment around it,” said Emma Fletcher, an FTC analyst, told USA TODAY.

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Romance scams fleeced Americans of $1 billion in 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

Scammers may attempt to connect with victims on dating apps, and they may send unsolicited private messages on Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites. Eventually the scammers – who typically live in another part of the country or world – will seek money to help with an emergency or for travel, the agencies say. They will also try to get important data from victims, too, including birth dates and bank account numbers.

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