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US Romance scams: Americans lost $201 million last year

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

It's tax season, which means it's also tax scam season. Here's what you need to know

  It's tax season, which means it's also tax scam season. Here's what you need to know From phony IRS calls demanding gift card payments to threats of canceling your Social Security number -- here are some of the most common tax scams for this tax season.Now with tax season upon us, individuals and groups will once again attempt to defraud taxpayers and the US government out of millions of dollars, using techniques and technologies that range from the old school to the cutting edge. This year is no different, and the IRS has been feverishly issuing warnings about how to spot the red flags and strategies for staying out of scammers' crosshairs.

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.

Online romance scammers are busy stealing money and hearts across the United States.

a close up of a keyboard© PHOTO: THINKSTOCK; ILLUSTRATION: EMILY CARTER/CNNMONEY

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.

FBI: BEC scams accounted for half of the cyber-crime losses in 2019

  FBI: BEC scams accounted for half of the cyber-crime losses in 2019 Average loss per BEC scam amounted to nearly $75,000, per complaint, on average.The FBI said that almost half of the reported losses -- an estimated $1.77 billion -- came from reports of BEC (Business Email Compromise), also known as EAC (Email Account Compromise) crimes.

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.

Americans looking for love lost at least 3 million to scammers last year , according to reports filed with the Federal Trade Commission. While many scams take place on dating websites, some victims have reported being approached elsewhere on social media, such as on Facebook or even through

  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.

Black Romance Novels Matter Too .
The black experience in America isn't all about struggle. According to writer and scholar Carole V. Bell, black romance novels remind us it's also about joy.Meanwhile, wonderful things are happening in the black romance world. As challenging as the publishing world is for black writers, there are fewer steps between the audience and creators in print than on screen, and therefore more opportunity for the views, joys, and concerns of black people about their world to find expression in a relatively unfiltered form.

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