While young people are more likely to fall victim to online scams overall, older people are more susceptible to romance scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams claimed $139 million from adults age 60 and older in 2020, this is up from $84 million the year before.
Here are red flags you might be in a Romance Scam:
- Requests that you communicate by e-mail or messaging service after initial contact on a legitimate dating site.
- Avoids communicating “face-to-face”, including video calls or chats.
- Calls you their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, although you have never met in person.
- Claims to be from the U.S., but is living, working, or traveling abroad.
- Claims that your relationship is “destiny” or “fate”.
- Shares a picture of themselves that could be a model from a magazine.
- Asks for gift cards, reloadable cards, a wire transfer, for any reason, before you have met in person.
- Asks for financial support to pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses, for any type of medical expenses, to pay custom fees to retrieve something, pay off a debt, or pay for traveling documents.
- Has made plans to meet you, but something has always come up.
- Tells you they are in the military stationed in another country.
- Uses odd grammar or spelling.
- Asks to send a large sum of money to your credit union account.
- Asks for personal information, such as your birthday, credit union account information, Social Security Number, home address and Zip code, names of your pets and children, or password.
- Told you that someone close to them has been in an accident, or other type of crisis, and needs money.
- Suddenly adds you on social media and begins conversations that quickly lead to romance.
- Is drastically younger than you are.
While none of these red flags is a sure indicator of a romance scam, any one of them should trigger the need to be cautious and a reminder to NEVER send money in any form to someone you have not met in person.
If you think you or someone close to you may be a victim of an online romance scam, it should be reported to the FBI by calling: 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or online at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Category: Financial Literacy & Safety