Love may be swirling in the air around Valentine’s Day, but in the world of dating apps and social media, romance can sometimes take a mischievous turn. As you swipe through profiles and scroll through timelines, keep your wits about you because not everyone is searching for love – some are fishing for your wallet.
“A romance scam is when someone uses the promise of a romantic relationship in order to build trust with you,” says Claire McHenry, the President of the North American Securities Administrators Association. “And once they have created that trust, they’re going to start to ask to borrow money or even to ask you to invest in something.”
Scammers have turned the online dating scene into their own personal playground, luring unsuspecting romantics into financial schemes. Whether it’s asking for an investment or borrowing cash, these modern-day cupids have some pretty sneaky tricks up their sleeves. And while seniors might seem like easy targets, anyone can get caught in their web of deception.
“Anyone with a phone or an email address can fall victim to this scam,” McHenry emphasized. “It often starts out with a text or a post on social media or a message on a dating app.”
In 2022, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received a whopping 19,000+ reports of confidence/romance scams, resulting in a jaw-dropping $740 million in losses. That’s a lot of love gone wrong!
And according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), romance scams have raked in a mind-boggling $1.3 billion over the past five years.
“But even though we know that this can attack anybody, we are seeing that older investors are really targeted,” McHenry said. “A dating app can be a great place to find love, but it’s not a good place to find financial advice. If someone starts to talk to you about money and investments, It’s time to swipe left.”
To protect oneself from falling victim to romance scams, McHenry advised individuals to exercise caution, ask numerous questions, and conduct thorough research before investing.
“Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting yourself. Ask a lot of questions and do your research. And if you don’t understand the answers, just don’t invest,” McHenry said.
She also recommended verifying the background of individuals offering investment opportunities, as legitimate investment professionals are required to be registered with a securities regulator.
“When it comes to romance, Cupid should be aiming at your heart and not your wallet,” said McHenry.
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