According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes. In 2016, IC3 logged nearly 15,000 complaints concerning romance scams. The losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million.
Scammers take advantage of their victims by obtaining access to their financial or personal information, and the FBI says the scams are especially prevalent this time of year.
The FBI is offering these tips to consider if you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online:
- Research the person's photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Go slow and ask questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to go "offline."
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can't. If you haven't met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you don't know personally.
If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, click here to file an online complaint with the FBI.