Last year, Americans lost a total of $201 million in online romance scams.
Scammers typically start with a fake profile using someone’s identity and match up to a person using an alleged location in the person’s city. They sometimes claim to either be deployed, working on an oil rig or as a doctor oversees, according to the Federal Trade Commission. From there, they usually ask the unsuspecting victim for seemingly innocent and legitimate costs like a plane ticket.
Romance scammers will insist on using a money transfer process or opt for gift cards to turn into cash.
“Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer,” the Federal Trade Commission said.
Scammers are known for moving fast in the “relationship” as well, and don’t always start on dating apps. They sometimes start on social media platforms and DM the unsuspecting victim. People are being warned of scammers claiming to love the person too quickly or ask for money without meeting face-to-face.
Just recently, an 80-year-old widower in Oregon lost $200,000 in an online romance scam. According to the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation, an online romance scammer stole a Florida woman’s identity to befriend the elderly widower through an online dating service. From there, the scammer proceeded to steal the elderly man’s heart and money over the course of several months.