Valentine’s Day may have come and passed, but romance scams are still very much alive! According to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest reports, fraud losses due to romance scams have risen significantly. In 2020, romance scams resulted in fraud losses surpassing $304 million.
This type of fraud is based on social engineering, often exploiting the elderly, widowed, or those who are living alone, which may be populations seen as more vulnerable. The scam may start with a telephone solicitation, an online encounter on a social website, or through other means. These fraudsters are adept at rapidly winning over the trust and confidence of their victims and, over time, gaining access to private information, such as their banking credentials. Once that occurs, an outbound ACH or wire transaction soon follows, resulting in a major loss to the victim. Too often, this crime goes unreported as the victim is too embarrassed to admit they have been duped by someone with whom they were romantically involved.
Protect yourself from being scammed – don’t share your personal details, don’t send or receive money no matter how convincing their story is, and don’t share your credit card or other financial information.