FBI warns people stuck at home could be more vulnerable to online romance scams | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

They send flowers. They spend months chatting online. They share poems expressing their love.

For people forced to stay home during the pandemic, an online connection can offer solace and love. But federal officials warn of a more sinister presence lurking on social media: con artists seeking to defraud vulnerable victims by posing as romantic suitors.

Nearly 11,500 people in the U.S. reported this year they were victims of romance scams involving a total loss of $346 million, according to the FBI. This time last year, nearly 10,400 victims reported they were defrauded of $274 million. Data from the Federal Trade Commission also shows an increase in reported romance scams in the first half of this year.

Because scams often unfold over months or years, agents said it wasn’t clear the rise in cases was connected to the pandemic. But FBI special agent Laura Brunstetter said there’s no doubt the pandemic has created prime conditions for tricksters as people spend more time online to combat loneliness.

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