Consumers lost $201 million to romance scams in 2019, an increase of nearly 40% from a year prior, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network. The FTC received more than 25,000 reports about romance scams in 2019—nearly triple what the agency received in 2015.
The American Bankers Association Foundation and the FTC previously highlighted the common signs of romance scams in an infographic that banks are free to use to educate their customers. Such scams typically involve a fraudster creating a fake profile to lure in victims, establishing a romantic relationship and eventually extorting money from their victims, which frequently include older Americans.
In cases where an online romance scam is suspected, the ABA Foundation and the FTC recommend that consumers slow down and talk to someone they trust, never wire money or send cash in any way to an online love interest, contact their bank immediately if they feel they’ve sent money to a scammer and report the experience to the online dating site, the FTC and the FBI.