The FBI has issued a new warning to online dating users about romance fraud, advising them to remain vigilant when talking to new people.
The warning comes after the security service reported more than 18,000 people lost money in 2018, a 70% year-on-year increase. The average victim was conned out of approximately $20,000.
Scammers use several different tactics to try and extract money from vulnerable singles. The FBI highlighted some of the most common approaches, such as lying about struggling to pay medical bills, or being stuck in a foreign country and needing money for a flight home.
A statement from the FBI said: “After establishing their victims’ trust, scammers try to convince them to send money for airfare to visit, or claim they are in trouble and need money. Victims often send money because they believe they are in a romantic relationship.”
Officials instructed that under no circumstances should online daters send money, even if it’s just small amounts, to someone they’ve never met, open a bank account on their behalf or act as a ‘mule’ and transfer money between different accounts.
One of the tips for users was to reverse image search their match’s profile pictures.
Elsewhere, law enforcement in Florida has informed parents about 15 apps that predators are known to be using to get in contact with children.
They mentioned several dating apps, including Bumble, Grindr, Badoo, MeetMe and Skout, as well as WhatsApp, Snapchat and TikTok.
At the end of July, the BBC announced a new five-part docu-series that will expose the growing trend of romance fraud in the UK.
Read more here.