The Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force would like to warn residents about the potential for romance scams while you may be hoping to meet someone through a dating site or social media. Romance scams are on the rise with an FTC report showing consumer’s reported losing $547 million in 2021 alone. That number is an increase of nearly 80% compared to 2020. Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. Instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money.
Romance scammers draw people in using pictures stolen from around the internet, building false personas that seem just real enough to be true, but always having a reason never to meet in person. Eventually, the supposed suitor will ask for money from the unwitting consumer. The impact can be major, with a median loss of $2,400 reported according to FTC reports. While many people report the romance scam started on a dating site or app, reports of romance scams originating from contact through social media are also common.
Another trend in 2021 was an increase in reports of romance scammers luring consumers into phony cryptocurrency investment schemes. According to the spotlight, consumers who paid romance scammers with cryptocurrency reported losing $139 million in total in 2021, more than any other payment amount. The median loss for consumers who reported paying a romance scammer with cryptocurrency was nearly $10,000. Nevertheless, consumers most often report sending money to romance scammers by using gift cards, with about a quarter of 2021 reports citing gift cards as a payment method.
Although there are many success stories of relationships blossoming after “meeting online”, keep in mind the following RED flags to alert you that you may be falling for a con-man/con-woman:
• He/she invites you to “leave the site” to communicate via personal text or email. Con artists know that moving off-site before launching their scam reduces the chance that you’ll report the crook to the site.
• Although it may be quite flattering and boost your confidence, when a person half of your age and good looking, can’t seem to get enough of you, there is something wrong. Scammers look for populations such as the 50’s and 60’s age group who are more likely to feel rejected or past their prime. And, they hope, a bit more anxious about their ability to find love thus making them vulnerable.
• Photographs of potential “dates” that display things associated with wealth (cars, boats, mansions, exotic travel) in reality could be a key to scammers who want to get your guard down for their future bid for cash. They create this illusion of wealth so they may be able to convince you that you would be simply “loaning” them money they don’t have immediate access to.
• Bad grammar, strange word choices, sentence structure are things to pay attention to.
The FTC provides tips for consumers on how to spot romance scams and protect themselves at www.ftc.gov/romancescams
Monthly Fraud Alerts brought to you by:
Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force
Bucks County District Attorney’s Office: 215-348-6344 A Woman’s Place (AWP): 1-800-220-8116
Bucks County Area Agency on Aging: 267-880-5700 Bucks County Office of Consumer Protection: 215-348-6060
Bucks County Coroner’s Office: 215-348-3852 Bucks County Register of Wills: 215-348-6265
Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA): 1-800-675-6900 US Dept. of Health and Human Services/OIG: 1-800-447-8477
www.buckscounty.gov/CrimesAgainstOlderAdults 24 - HOUR HOTLINE: 1-800-490-8505