You meet someone new. They promise you candlelight dinners, long walks on the beach, and an intense physical connection. It sounds amazing…but first, they have a simple request: can you give them some money?
You’ve just stumbled into a romance scam. To commit these crimes, con artists use the promise of a romantic relationship to talk you into giving them cash. These situations can cause double damage. They steal your money and break your heart.
An Epidemic of Romance Scams
The problem of dating scams has been growing in recent years. According to data compiled by the Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost a total of more than $300 million as a result of romance scams during 2020. That equates to a median amount of $2,500 per person scammed.
What’s more, the problem has intensified lately. The 2020 figures are around 50% higher than the similar total in 2019.
COVID has played a role in this recent jump. Isolation spawned by the pandemic made people more susceptible to this particular crime. With social distancing keeping people from their loved ones, many lonely hearts became more open to scammers.
How to Avoid Romance Scams
Remember: anyone who truly loves you will want you to feel safe. They won’t mind that you take precautions. In fact, they should show respect and affection by encouraging you to maintain your financial security.
Watch out for these warning signs:
Moving Too Quickly
Scammers want to create the feel of a whirlwind romance. That way, they can get to your money faster. Watch out for people trying to move things along too quickly.
Creating a Ticking Clock
They need money for their kids. Or for their sick parent. Or because they’ve fallen behind on their rent. Whatever the particular reason, any time you face a financial deadline, consider it a red flag.
Delaying the “Romance” Part
You make plans to meet. They cancel. You push for some alone time together. They ghost you for a week. In fact, they only seem ready to talk when the topic of money comes up. This could be a sign that you’re dealing with a scam rather than a legitimate romance.
What to Do If You’re Being Scammed
It may seem hard to protect your wallet while keeping your heart open. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Play It Safe
The best way to keep your money is to avoid getting scammed in the first place. Stay vigilant about new relationships.
Contact Your Bank
You might be able to get your money back. It depends on the form of payment you used (cash and gift cards, for instance, are probably lost forever). But your financial institution can give you guidance.
Alert the Authorities
It might seem embarrassing to admit you’ve been scammed. But police see this kind of dating scam all the time. What’s more, reporting the incident could save someone else.
You don’t have to give up on love. Instead, just take simple precautions that can keep scammers out of your life…while keeping the door open to legitimate partners.