Recently, Federal law enforcement officers charged 80 scammers with stealing more than $46 million from the elderly, business owners and — more specifically — people using dating apps and websites. Unfortunately, this is just the latest dating scam. As more people gravitate toward online dating, so do con artists.
According to the FTC, dating app/website scams are now the most costly version of online fraud. In 2015, losses from dating-related online fraud totalled $33 million. Last year? That number skyrocketed to $143 million. Complaints to the FTC about these types of scams have also increased dramatically. In 2015 there were 8,500 dating-related complaints filed. In 2015, there were more than 21,000.
The online dating scams themselves are nothing new, it’s merely the “location” that is different. As Marketwatch reports, in almost every case, a con artist contacts someone searching for a romantic relationship online and convinces the victim to send them money. In one example, a scammer befriended a victim through a dating app and asked them to pay their airfare so they could meet up. Of course the scammer then never showed up and completely cut-off communications.
The best way to avoid these scams is to be overly-cautious. Never send money — no matter how small the amount — to someone you have yet to meet in person. If the dating profile has no photos, that’s a red flag. If things are progressing, ask to speak on the phone. If something seems off about them, don’t be afraid to say so. After all, if they’re truly a person worth getting to know, they’ll be happy with your honesty.