He was charming, clever, wanted to know all about her and affectionally referred to her as “dear.”
His messages were consistent, but he never had time for a call or video chat. She didn’t think anything of it, he promised to visit – if he only had the money for a flight. Could she just wire it to him?
This is what is known as a romance scam – when a scammer targets a victim in a romantic relationship, trying to woo them with the ultimate goal of getting access to their money.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, almost 70,000 people reported romance scams in 2022, with losses totaling $1.3 billion.
According to Bryan Clark, Senior Corporate Security Field Investigator at Regions, romance scams can begin in different ways. “You could have individuals that are on dating websites that are targeted there. You can have ones that are targeted directly through unsolicited messages.”
But the goal of the scammers is the same.
“They’re going to try to fall in love within the first few text messages. It’s going to be quick. And from that point on, it’s going to become, ‘Can you help me with this emergency? Can you help me with that?’ They’re always going to seek money and (a) promise that you’re going to meet in person and that they love you – but ultimately, that meeting is never going to happen and they’re just going to keep asking for money.”
5 Romance Scam Red Flags
Don White, head of Corporate Security at Regions, shares five romance scam red flags to look for:
- Your new love interest immediately asks for an email or phone number. Scammers work to get you off the online dating messaging platform and contact you through your personal email or phone.
- They will share their photo with you but won’t join a live call or chat where you can actually see them.
- They profess love right away, after messaging for only a short period of time and before you have met in person.
- They don’t use your name, but rather use terms of endearment such as sweetheart and honey. They are often juggling many different individuals, and it’s easier to use that term as opposed to calling you by name.
- They claim to have an urgent need to get money – for instance, they have a family or medical emergency and are unable to get to their funds.
It doesn’t matter your age or income, anyone can become a target for romance scammers.
To safeguard yourself, never give out your account information or wire money to someone you’ve only met online. And remember, White said, “It’s not true love if they’re asking you for money.”
What To Do if You Fall for a Romance Scam
Unfortunately, people still fall for romance scams. If you have been a victim of a romance scam, there are several steps you should take:
- Call your bank and let them know if you have given out your account number or other information.
- File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov.
- Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- Report it to the dating website.
To learn more about romance scams and what to do you if you think you or a loved one may be entangled in one, listen to the Regions Wealth Podcast on romance scams.
The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/fraudprevention or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.
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