Romance scams take record dollars in 2020 | #lovescams | #datingapps


1 The analysis is based on self-reported data from consumers that is stored in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Database. It is not a survey that measures prevalence of this particular scam. This analysis excludes fraud reports classified as “Other misc.”

2 Losses sustained in these scams are reported by consumers but not independently verified. These figures and figures throughout this Spotlight are based on reports to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network that were classified as romance scams, excluding reports provided by the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3). IC3 reports submitted prior to 2020 were unavailable at the time of publication, so these reports were excluded to ensure greater consistency in reporting trends over time. .

3 According to the Pew Research Center, the “share of Americans who have used these platforms – as well as the share who have found a spouse or partner through them – has risen over time.” See Monica Anderson, Emily A. Vogels, and Erica Turner, Pew Research Center, The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating (Feb. 2020, Rev. Jan. 2021), at 3, available at

4 This finding is based on keyword analysis of 2020 Consumer Sentinel Reports classified as a romance scams and indicating a dollar loss. Of these, 2,276 reports mentioned the dating apps Ashley Madison, BLK, Bumble, Chispa, Coffee Meets Bagel, eharmony, EliteSingles, FriendFinder, Grindr, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, OurTime, Plenty of Fish, Seeking Arrangement, SilverSingles, Tinder, WooPlus, or Zoosk. Another 5,924 mentioned Facebook or Instagram. Reports that mentioned one of the specified dating apps and also Facebook or Instagram were excluded from the Facebook or Instagram figure. Because these numbers have not been normalized based on the number of users, they should not be understood as an indication that an individual user of Facebook or Instagram is more likely to encounter a romance scam as compared to users of these dating apps.

5 Wire transfer refers to payments made by wire transfer services such as MoneyGram and Western Union. Gift cards include reload cards (e.g., MoneyPak)..

6 Median loss calculations are based on reports indicating a monetary loss of $1 to $999,999. Reports provided by MoneyGram, Western Union, and Green Dot are excluded for this calculation as these data contributors report each transaction separately, which typically affects calculation of an individual’s median loss. The median individual reported loss for all frauds in 2020, excluding romance scams, was $240.

7 In 2020, 62% of romance scam reports included in this Spotlight included age information. This age comparison is normalized based on the number of loss reports per million population by age during this period. Population numbers were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Selected Age Groups by Sex for the United States (June 2020).

8 See endnote 6.

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