Millions of Americans have used online dating apps to find long-term relationships, but some endings aren’t quite as cute. According to the Federal Trade Commission, people lost $143 million to romance scams in 2018.
“Romance scammers are hard at work wooing people on dating apps and social media,” the FTC report said. “They may lift photos to create an attractive profile or even steal the identity of a real person. Just like with real romances, it may take them some time to gain your trust, but the scammer’s payoff can be big.”
How To Protect Yourself
While every situation is different, there are some steps you can take to make sure you don’t become a victim of a romance scam.
If you start to suspect the person on the other end of your dating app might be trying to scam you, start by doing a reverse image search online. If you find the picture attached to a different name, end the conversation.
The FTC also advises never sending money to someone you haven’t met in person. Most romance scammers will flood you with compliments and then start asking for money, which should be seen as a red flag.
What To Do If You’ve Been Victimized
Romance scams have nearly tripled since 2015, so don’t feel like you’re alone if it happens to you.
If you’re worried you may have been scammed, report it on the FTC website. If you gave away any personal or banking information, check your accounts for unusual activity right away.
Money-transferring services like Venmo and PayPal are very wary of fraud as well. If you used their services to send money to a scammer, contact them and see what they can do too.