EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEVV) — Nearly 70,000 people fall victim to romance scams each year.
The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office says they receive dozens of calls of reported scams a month, but romance scams can be harder to prosecute seeing as what the scammer is doing isn’t always illegal.
Sheriff Noah Robinson of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office says, “If you willingly give your money to someone out of the kindness of your heart and maybe they weren’t being honest with you, but they developed a false sense of intimacy by asking for money, it’s not clear that there’s a crime there.”
Most of the time, romance scams begin online.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 40% of people who lost money due to a romance scam said it started on social media, especially dating apps.
Sheriff Robinson says, “They fill that gap that you have and they’re experts at drawing that out and listening to you. That’s a pleasant experience to have someone who’s listening to you and seems to care about you. Who wouldn’t want that?”
Which has caused many singles to be more cautious when using dating apps–
You want to pay attention to certain signs when meeting someone online:
- The scammer refuses to meet you in person or through video chat
- The scammer asks you to send money to receive a package, through gift cards, or crypto-currency.
- Focus on profile photos to see if they’re edited or photoshopped
- The scammer is asking for intimate photos of yourself, that will later be used as black mail in exchange for money.
The FTC reported $1.3billion were loss by individuals involved in romance scams.
“It’s a pernicious type of a crime and one the we find very hard to deal with because even close families can’t convince their loved ones that they’re being scammed, ” says Sheriff Robinson.
It’s important to report suspicious messages on dating apps or social media platforms and to the FTC.