Those looking for love this Valentine’s Day should watch out for fraudsters trying to scam singles out of their money, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.
Last year, victims lost $143 million from “romance scams,” more than any other fraud type reported to the FTC. The agency said it received more than 21,000 reports of romance scams in 2018, up from 8,500 in 2015, when $33 million in losses were reported.
The frauds typically involve bad actors luring victims with phony online profiles on social media or dating sites, the agency said. Scammers often make up names and lift photos found on the web or assume the identities of real people.
Once duped victims fall in love, scammers will ask for money to cover medical emergencies, travel costs, or some other misfortune, the agency said. People reported sending money repeatedly to cover supposed crisis after crisis.
The median reported loss to romance scams was $2,600 in 2018, about seven times higher than other frauds, the agency said. Those between the ages of 40 to 69 lost money at rates twice that of people in their 20s. Consumers aged 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $10,000, according to the agency.
An AARP survey released Tuesday found that 28 percent of Pennsylvanians said that either they or someone they knew encountered a financial scam while seeking friendship or love interest online.