FTC: Americans lost over $200 million to romance scams in 2019

Starting a relationship online? Beware of the red flags that could point to a scam

Hands using a laptop
Hands using a laptop (Luigi Masella/Getty Images)

As the Nazareth ballad goes, love hurts. That’s especially true if the romance isn’t sincere such as the kind typically involved in scams targeting lonely consumers.

Last year, over 25,000 consumers filed complaints about romance scams and reported losses totaling $201 million, which represents a 40 percent increase over the money lost to these scams in 2018, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC says more losses have been reported as a result of these scams than any other scam in the past two years.

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As the agency points out, romance scammers will seek out people who are in search of love and then leverage those relationships for money. Often the scams involved a fabricated tale about financial hardship. Below is a list of potential red flags to keep an eye out for:

  • Is your lover moving too fast? Scammers often move quickly and claim to be living overseas for business or military reasons.
  • Have they tried to move your conversation away from the dating site? This too is a common trend with romance scams.
  • Do they ask you for money? Scammers might ask for money because of an immediate need, like a medical bill or travel expense.

To learn more or file a complaint with the FTC, call 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit the agency’s website.

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