Romance scams are on the rise, with consumers losing $547 million to them in 2021 alone, according to new data published by the Federal Trade Commission today. That figure was up 80% from $307 million in 2020. The median individual loss reported in 2021 was $2,400.
The FTC also found that cryptocurrency payments related to romance scams are growing—in 2021, $139 million in losses reported due to romance scams were paid in cryptocurrency—nearly five times higher than in 2020 and more than 25 times higher than those reported in 2019. The median individual loss reported among those who made cryptocurrency payments was $9,770. The FTC noted, however, that gift cards are the most common method of payment in romance scams—about one in four romance scam victims said they paid with a gift card.
The data also showed that romance scams were up across all age groups, though the increase was most striking for people ages 18 to 29, which saw a tenfold increase between 2017 and 2021. However, older victims—those 70 and older—reported the highest individual median losses at $9,000, compared to $750 for victims between ages 18 and 29.