Valentine’s Day is next week and romance scammers are turning up the heat in preparation for their big payday.
According to a report published by the Federal Trad Commission (FTC), last year nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam and reported losses of a staggering $1.3 billion, the average victim being duped by around $4,400. And, as you may have guessed, most victims of romance scams are embarrassed by being bamboozled and don't report their losses to law enforcement.
Romance scammers tell all sorts of lies to steal their victims heart and money and are successful by paying close attention to the information you share both with them and social media. Here's the red flag – if YOU want to meet in real life, THEY can’t.
Reports show that their excuses are often baked right into their fake identity. For example, claiming to be on a faraway military base is the most popular lie, but “offshore oil rig worker” is another common (and fake) occupation. The chart below shows the top lies reported to the FTC last year:
Norton has published a comprehensive article detailing how these romance scams work and what to look our for. I highly recommend giving it a skim if you suspect that you or someone you know is being targeted.
Here's how you can spot a romance scammer in the act:
▪ Nobody legit will ever ask you to help—or insist that you invest— by sending cryptocurrency, giving the numbers on a gift card, or by wiring money. Anyone who does is a scammer.
▪ If someone tells you to send money to receive a package, you can bet it’s a scam.
▪ Talk to friends or family about a new love interest and pay attention if they’re concerned.
▪ Try a reverse image search of profile pictures. If the details don’t match up, it’s a scam.
Help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platform. Then, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If someone is trying to extort you, report it to the FBI. And even more info is available from the FTC at ftc.gov/romancescams.
Let's do our best help spot these adversaries who are trying to trick and hurt our local community.
Stay safe out there.
PS. Check out my recent interview on ThinkTech, Why all the fuss about ChatGPT?