(FBI.gov/Meredith) — This Valentine’s Day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is raising awareness about online romance scams, also called “Confidence Fraud.”
This type of fraud happens when scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating websites, apps, or social media. They try to obtain access to the person's financial information or personal identity.
Romance scams are prevalent during this time of year, and the FBI cautions everyone who may be romantically involved with a person online to be extremely careful.
“If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately,” Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, said in a press release. “We recognize that it may be embarrassing for victims to report this type of fraud scheme because of the personal relationships that are developed, but we ask for victims to come forward so the FBI can ensure that these online imposters are brought to justice.”
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes.
In 2016, almost 15,000 romance scam complaints were reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, an increase of nearly 2,500 more than the previous year. The losses associated with those complaints exceeded $230 million.
The following tips may be helpful to consider if you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online:
If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, file a complaint here on the FBI's website.