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Americans Lost A Mindblowing Amount Of Money To Dating Scams Last Year

Scams
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Next time you think “I would never be stupid enough to fall for an online dating scam,” think again. According to an FBI report, Americans lost over $85 million through online dating and romance frauds last year.

It seems like common sense not to give money to a stranger you met online, but that $85 million tells a different story. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) had a busy year in 2014 and o ne budding crime trend stood out: the increased use of social media to perpetrate frauds.

“Over the last decade, the growth and popularity of social media has increased,” says the FBI report. “Social media has revolutionized the way people interact with others and has become an integral part of life for people of all ages. Criminals have exploited social media by phishing for unwary users to fall victim to their scams.”

IC3 complaint data shows 12% of the complaints submitted in 2014 contained a social media aspect, including online dating scams. Women over 40 were the worst-hit demographic, with total losses of $68,529,135. Men over 40 followed, with losses of $13,766,588, then men and women 39 and under, at $4,417,280.

The amount lost to romance scams averaged out to a whopping $14,000 per complaint.

In one particularly common scheme, scammers assume the identities of military personnel and pretending to seek relationships online. Once they've made a digital connection with someone who falsely believes them to be trustworthy, the criminals present convincing scenarios involving family tragedies, severe life circumstances, and other hardships in attempt to solicit money.

In most cases, scammers exploit their victims' personal information using compromised accounts or social engineering. The FBI offers the following advice to online daters:

  • Be wary of individuals who claim the romance was destiny or fate, and you are meant to be together.
  • Be cautious if an individual says they are in love with you and cannot live without you, but need you to send money so they can visit you. If you do not send money or otherwise try to help, they will claim you do not love them.
  • Fraudsters typically claim to be from the United States (or your local region), but are currently overseas, or going overseas, for business or family matters.

If you see any of these signs, especially if you see more than one happening concurrently, beware. You could soon be contributing to that $85 million dollars.