A Summary of Online Romance Fraud
Online dating fraud and schemes have been on the rise for the last several years and result in significant financial consequences. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that 21,000 people said reported romance scams with a financial loss totaling $143 million. That means romance scams have a greater financial loss than any other fraud type.
For comparison sake, dating fraud accounted for $33 million in 2015, $75 million in 2016, $88 million in 2017 and $143 million in 2018. That accounts for a $110 million increase of fraud related to online scams.
How Romance Scams Work
Online romance scams are not new and inspired the popular MTV show, Catfish. On Catfish, two investigators scour social media, websites, and more to help victims determine if they are being duped by their online love interest. Unfortunately, in 2018, the median financial loss for individual victims was $2,600.
A romance scam is not difficult to pull off. This might be why it’s the most popular type of scam, and the most lucrative. Due to oversharing, scammers of online dating apps can steal photos from Facebook, Instagram, or Google images. Then, they create a dating profile using real information from a person who is not them. Once the profile is created, they swipe, add, like, and connect with real users. Once a user takes the bait and falls for the Catfish, the fraudster will then ask for money, gifts, and more.
Online dating scams affect generation X and baby boomers the most, almost twice as much as it affects millennials and Gen Z. Due to a lack of information surrounding online dating and scams for seniors, those who are 70 and over reported $10,000 in financial losses.
What You Can Do To Prevent Online Dating Schemes
Preventing an online dating scheme, or any other type of online scheme is not difficult. The only thing you really need is common sense.
Our Director of Forensics, Allan Buxton, says, “Don’t send money, ever. If they claim to be local, meet up somewhere safe and see if the interaction matches the online one. If they won’t meet or drag out meeting you over an extended period, that’s a red flag. The whole point of dating sites is to match people up for dates.”
Additionally, there are other tools you can use to see if someone is real, and they are all free with no additional downloads. Try using Google’s reverse image search tool. If you suspect a person is too good to be true, or too attractive, they probably are. Just navigate to Google Images. There, you’ll have the option to upload a picture, paste the image URL over, or drag and drop a picture if you are on a computer. This will then show you any photos that are similar to that one.
Victims of Fraud
Fraud can affect anyone, regardless of if they are on a dating site or not. If you are the victim of fraud, contact SecureForensics for a free phone consultation at 1-800-266-1407.