US Romance scams: Americans lost $201 million last year

11:25  14 february  2020
11:25  14 february  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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Americans lost 8 million to imposter scams that year . Most of the people who paid scammers told the FTC they wired money or sent money via gift cards. The FTC advises Americans to not give money to people they haven't met in person and to look for inconsistency in answers to questions.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) claim that 976 Canadians were involved in some kind of online romance scam and combined, they lost million CAD. The RCMP says that this happened on social media and through popular dating apps, but it doesn’t mention any apps specifically.


Online romance scams are growing at a dizzying pace, raking in millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims across the United States.

Some of the scams drag on for months or years, and leave the victims crushed emotionally and financially. Just this week, federal officials announced that Americans lost $201 million to online romance scams last year -- nearly a 40% jump since 2018.

Here's how to avoid getting your heart and money stolen:

They claim to be in these professions

Romance scammers start off with fake profiles using someone else's identity. Their alleged location is never in your city -- they claim to be deployed in the military, working at an oil rig overseas or a doctor embedded with international groups, the Federal Trade Commission says. That way, they can ask for money to pay for seemingly legitimate costs such as travel visas, plane tickets and hospital bills.

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Americans lost 3 million last in 2018 alone. The Federal Trade Commission said this week it received a record 21,000 reports of romance scams in 2018, costing victims 3 million . Romance scamming has more than doubled in recent years and is steadily rising.

Online romance scammers are busy stealing money and hearts across the United States. And that number has skyrocketed in recent years , with losses that are almost quadruple 2015 figures. “Reports indicate the scammers are active on dating apps, but also on social media sites that aren’t generally

  Romance scams: Americans lost $201 million last year © FTC

They insist on anonymous money transfers

When asking for money, romance scammers rarely use regular money transfer process such as a checking account. They opt for gift cards so they can turn them into cash. "Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer," the Federal Trade Commission said.

After they get the gift card number and its PIN, they can immediately retrieve the money loaded on it and the process is difficult to reverse. "Once they've done that, the scammers and your money are gone, usually without a trace," the FTC says. "Here's the thing: Never send money or gifts to a love interest you haven't actually met. It's a romance scam."

They move fast on the relationship

Romance scammers don't always start on dating apps. Others start on social media, with Facebook messenger especially popular, the FTC says.

It warns people to be wary of any online relationship in which the person wants to leave the dating site immediately and use personal messaging, the person is fast to claim love or the person asks for money without meeting face-to-face.

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