The Federal Trade Commission has reported losses from romance scams were higher than any other category of fraud in 2018.
Consumers in the US lost upwards of $143 million to scammers on online dating platforms in over 21,000 separate cases, a median average of $2,600 each.
In some extreme situations, victims are sending thousands of dollars at a time to someone they’ve connected with, after their match claims they need cash to pay for medical bills, flights or other emergency procedures.
Other criminals are happy to receive small individual amounts across a long time period. One women, referred to as Connie, sent $100 Amazon gift cards to a man online, who turned out to be using a fraudulent profile.
FTC spokesperson Monica Vala explained on AoL.com: “You know as long as that spigot is on and there’s a little bit of money coming through to these folks, they’re going to keep trying to get some of that money”.
Last year, the FBI warned online dating users to be extra careful about who they spoke to online, especially around the Valentine’s Day period.
The average victim of romance scams in the UK loses over £2,000, and 37% pay out sums of more than £5,000.
A recent BBC Panorama documentary investigated the techniques fraudsters used – such as pretending to be a member of the military.
Read more here.