AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Federal Trade Commission is warning people not to fall for romance scams.
The FTC said online thieves trick people into falling in love with fake dating profiles that end up stealing their heart and their money.
“The FTC says 40% of people said they were impacted by some sort of lost money to romance scams last year,” said cyber security expert Mitchem Boles with GuidePoint Security. “That’s a big number.”
In 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam and losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion according to the FTC.
Victims may be looking for love in dating apps or social media but end up being scammed by someone with a fake profile asking for money to be wired or using gift cards.
“If anyone is asking you to send them money, especially when it’s very quickly after you’ve started communicating with them. That should be a red flag,” said Boles.
There are several warning signs, according to Boles.
“From a profile picture that looks a little bit off if they’re on social media or talking to someone. AI has been a big piece of that,” explained Boles.
“If something looks too good to be true, especially as you’re communicating to someone, then that can be a red flag.”
Romance scammers will often ask for money quickly and urgently.
“They’re usually using urgency, they’re getting people to really jump on it, saying they’re hurt, or they need money for some reason. But they’re using that kind of methodology for gift cards, because it’s very hard to get that money back,” said Boles.
Before you send any money Boles said to ask yourself, “hey is this legitimate? Is this really a need? And do I really want to use my money to help this person that I may not have ever met before? Or know if that need is real?”
You can report a romance scam on the FBI’s website.