Love scams are no longer a rare thing these days. More and more people of all ages choose to look for love with the help of dating apps or simply by meeting new people on social platforms. These technologies are precisely the tools that allow scammers to prey upon people’s feelings and money. Here are some striking online dating scams statistics for the current and previous years.
How Do Romance or Online Dating Scams Work?
Online dating scams or online romance/love scams are set up by people who pretend to look for a romantic relationship. They often find victims on websites, mobile dating apps, or social media. These people usually take time in building trust and spend hours chatting online with the targeted person. Needless to say that they seem to be the right match for that person and never get into a conflict or hurt their feelings. Gradually, they manage to conquer the person’s trust and that is the moment when they ask for money making up a sad, or critical situation that urges their victim to help them right away. After the person transfers money, the scammer immediately disappears without a trace.
Romance Scams Statistics
These are some of the main U.S. statistics on online date scams:
- This year and in 2020, the amount of money caused by online love scams has doubled; in 2020, these scams caused a loss of $304 million, compared to the $201 million lost in 2019.
- According to a BBB report, the susceptibility risk for targets involved in romance scams is 54%.
- Statistics show that women are usually more likely to fall for these scams than men.
- After employment scams, the second most dangerous types of scams targeting women are love scams, as pointed out in a BBB Scam Tracker Risk report.
- More than 50% of romance scams are nowadays carried out on dating apps or social media platforms and people never really meet their fake love partner in real life.
- Some of the most common places where love scammers try to find new victims are Facebook and Instagram.
- More than 25,000 consumers fill reports about romance scams with the FTC on an annual basis.
- According to the FBI, romance scams were the second most reported type of cybercrime in 2019, this was also the year when the losses caused by love scams were higher than those linked to any other type of scam.
- Compared to the number of romance scams registered in 2015, these crimes have more than tripled by 2021 – in 2015, U.S. consumers lost $33 million in romance scams.
- More than 20,000 people have been affected by online romance scams each year, for the past 3 years.
- The most significant median loss due to online romance fraud ($3,000) was linked to scams that involved cryptocurrency transfers according to a 2019 BBB report.
- BBB data also shows that the most susceptible age group for online romance scams are people between the age of 55 and 64.
- In the U.S., the Midwest seems to be more susceptible to online dating scams; here, the median loss per person caused by these scams is $115.
- Some of the U.S. states that register the highest losses due to romance scams are California, New York, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.
- Almost $85 million were lost only in 2019 by older adults due to online romance scams, an amount that exceeded the $60 million lost in imposter scams and the $51 million lost in scams that involved fake prizes, the lottery, or sweepstakes.
- More than 60% of the money older adults lose on online dating scams is sent to scammers through wire transfers according to an FTC Older Consumer Report.
As these statistics point out, love scams are a real issue these days when people choose to socialize over the internet more than they do in real life. If you believe that you may be targeted by a love scammer, be cautious. Try to learn more about who that person is and never send them money unless you’re sure who you are dealing with. Moreover, if you were the victim of an online romance scam, don’t accept your loss and move on. Report the crime to the authorities and contribute to helping others stay safe.
Online Love Scams and How to Avoid Them
Online scams can take different forms as con men are always ready to take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities. One of the most sensitive spots they’ve also managed to exploit with the help of technology is people’s need for companionship. As thousands of people have started using online websites and apps to find a soulmate during the past years, the number of online love scams has also increased. Here are a few basic facts about these scams and how to avoid heartache and losing money by steering clear of them.
According to FTC’s 2020 report, romance scams led to a total financial loss of $304 million, which represents almost twice as much compared to the previous year. Naturally, lockdown restrictions have also contributed to this number since people spent much more time at home, socializing over the internet.
Romance scams are mainly carried out in two ways, the scammer either creates an account on a dating app or on popular social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. Afterward, he or she starts looking for people they can strike up a relationship with. This sort of scam usually involves spending a lot of time chatting online with a victim until the scammer manages to win their trust. Most of the time, and given the virtual nature of the relationship, the scammer and the victim never meet face to face. The story usually unfolds in the following way: after weeks or even months of back-and-forth messages or FaceTime with their victim, the scammer comes up with a story to persuade their online lover to send them money. They usually claim it is an urgent matter, or a potentially risky situation, which aims to persuade the victim to send money right away.
The reason the author claims they need money is always different. If you take more time to read about these scams online, you’ll find out that some people lost money because they were asked to pay ransom to save their virtual partner’s life, others paid to help those persons pay rent or mortgage. Other victims were even persuaded to transfer money on cryptocurrency exchange platforms for supposedly profitable cryptocurrency investments. Obviously, once the money was gone from those people’s bank accounts, so were their love partners. To avoid similar heart-breaking and financially wracking situations, here are a few aspects you should pay attention to if you use dating apps, or you start an online romance.
Scammers who try to take advantage of people by pretending to engage in a romantic relationship more than often say they work overseas. Therefore, they are looking for love online and they’re not able to meet face to face. Many of them claim to be working in the army, on a remote oil rig, as a volunteer or doctor for an international organization. The good thing about these claims is that they are investigable. With a bit of online research, you can find out if there is a doctor working overseas for an ONG by looking up the name of that person and data related to their degree or professional license. Of course, there are other low-profile jobs that are harder to investigate, but since most people have at least a CV online or they’re registered in public records, you normally should be able to find out something about them.
Usually, scammers take cautious steps before they ask for money. If their attitude changes right after they’ve made the request and they seem inpatient, maybe even angry if you say you can’t send them money, this is a red flag. If you’re dealing with a scammer, that person might not be willing to wait for long. Tell them you need at least a few days to make up your mind and see how their attitude changes during this while. If the person stops talking to you for this reason, you probably weren’t involved in a love relationship, but a cunning scheme.
If your online partner convinced you to send them money. There’s still time to change your mind and red flags to spot. Normally, if a person asks for money for a legitimate purpose, they’re ready to receive it in their bank account. But scammers aren’t, so they often ask for alternative payment methods such as reload cards, transfers in cryptocurrency wallets, or gift cards.
Online love scams are a real threat these days. Stay safe by watching out for the warning signs above.
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