FTC: Romance Scams Rise 50% Since 2019

The amount of money consumers reported losing to romance scammers has increased by 50% since 2019 and has risen more than fourfold since 2016, the Federal Trade Commission said today. Last year, consumers reported losing a record $304 million to romance scams, with a median loss of $2,500 reported to the FTC, more than 10 times higher than the median loss for all other types of fraud.

In typical romance scams, scammers using stolen pictures from the internet build fake personas on social media sites or dating platforms and eventually coerce their victim into sending them money. The FTC noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an additional opportunity for romance scammers to put off meeting in person.

Consumers reported most often sending money to romance scammers by wire transfer or gift cards, with reports of gift cards used to pay scammers rising almost 70% since 2019. People aged 40 to 69 were the most likely to report losing money to romance scams, and people 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $9,475.

The FTC and the ABA Foundation have jointly produced an infographic that banks are free to use to help educate consumers about the risks of online romance scams.