Romance scams are expected to surge this Valentine’s Day as more people look for love online.
Americans lost a record $304 million in 2020, up from $201 million in 2019. Scammers have grown increasingly sophisticated and no longer just approach victims on dating sites.
On Jan. 25, the FTC reported $770 million in fraud occurred on social media platforms in 2021, a stunning eighteenfold increase over 2017 reported losses.
California is the No. 1 most catfished state with 3,110 victims losing $120,492,182.
The surge in recent years is due to COVID-19 creating unprecedented opportunity for scammers to prey on isolated and lonely victims.
5 Signs You Are Being Catfished and How to Avoid Becoming a Victim:
- Will Not Meet in Person or Video Chat: They keep finding excuses not to video chat or meet. They send pictures of themselves with your name written on a piece of paper to prove they are real, but these are photoshopped.
- Asks to Move Away from the Dating App: They want to move the conversation off the dating app and onto an online messaging platform such as WhatsApp or Google Hangouts.
- Poor Grammar but Claims to be Educated: They claim to be highly educated but their messages are littered with typos and grammatical errors.
- Confesses Love Quickly: Their goal is shower you with love to gain your trust so they can steal your money. If the person moves too quickly and asks for the same in return, it is a red flag.
- Asks for Financial Assistance: They claim to have an emergency and ask you to send money. They may also ask for your bank account information so they can deposit money into your account but his is just a trick to get your information.
To avoid becoming a victim: never give money to anyone you’ve not met in person; do not give bank or personal information; and do not click on links which may have malware.
If you are the victim of a romance scam, report it to the FTC.