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Romance Scams: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Many individuals turn to online dating sites, apps or social media in hopes to meet someone. However, instead of finding romance, many are finding scammers who prey on individuals looking for love.

Reports of romance scams are growing and costing people a lot of money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, people reported losing $201 million in romance scams in 2019, which is six times higher than it was five years ago.

Romance scammers are very good at what they do but there are ways to avoid falling victim.

Warning signs that an individual may not be who they say they are:
  • You meet someone online and after a short time, they profess their love or strong feelings for you.
  • They ask you to start communicating by text or personal email, away from the original site you met on.
  • Their profile you read on the site might not match with everything they tell you.
  • After gaining your trust, they start telling you stories of bad luck or medical illnesses.
  • They indirectly/or directly ask for money, gift cards, or money to pay credit card bills.
  • Their messages could be poorly written, inconsistent, and sometimes vague.
  • They offer various excuses for why they can’t show you more photos or pictures of themselves.
  • They delay meeting in person or talking with you on a video chat.
  • When you do agree to meet, they cancel or postpone due to some emergency.
If you suspect a romance scam:
  • Stop all contact with that individual.
  • Block your phone, email, and/or social media address from the user.
  • Contact your bank or financial institution to close or change any compromised accounts.
  • Gather together any saved information, messages, pictures about the individual. You may need to provide this information when you file a report.
  • Reach out to a friend, family member or counselor who can help you with the emotional difficulties.
  • Report the scammer to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. The more national reporting data collected, the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals. The FBI doesn’t resolve your situation directly but will get your local law enforcement involved.

In many cases, victims of romance scams are embarrassed that they’ve allowed themselves to be vulnerable and are unwilling to tell anyone but this could be their biggest mistake. It is very important to report the situation properly and get the help that is needed. Click here for more information on how to report a romance scam.

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