By: The Roseville Police Department\
It’s a new year. Are you or a family member looking for that someone special in 2024? Now, more than ever, people are using their smart phone for almost everything, including finding their soul mate. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2022 nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam and this resulted in a loss of $1.3 billion dollars.
You’ve no doubt heard of people being scammed on dating apps, but according to the FTC a more common way romance scams began was with an unexpected message on a social media platform.
Older adults that are lonely or have recently lost a spouse are especially vulnerable to romance scams. These scammers are unscrupulous and will exploit any vulnerability of their victim. In the end, these scammers have one thing in common. They want your money. The FTC states in 2022 the largest aggregate reported losses were in cryptocurrency, but more people reported paying the scammer with gift cards than any other method.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (https://www.ice.gov/features/LoveOnline) offers the following tips to avoid losing money to a romance scam:
- Protect yourself and older loved ones by raising awareness. Although this can be an uncomfortable topic, make sure you, your family, and your friends are familiar with romance scams. The more you know about these scams, the better prepared you are to prevent being a victim.
- Check in on older loved ones. Scammers are seeking to target those living alone or grieving the loss of a spouse as they are more vulnerable.
- Limit what you share online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Do your research. Research the individual’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or other details have been used elsewhere.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions. Don’t let the individual rush you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
- Listen to your gut. If the individual seems too good to be true, talk to someone you trust.
- Don’t overshare personal information. Requests for inappropriate photos or financial information could later be used to extort you.
- Be suspicious if you haven’t met in person. If the individual promises to meet in person, but consistently comes up with an excuse for cancelling, be suspicious.
- Don’t send money. Never send money (i.e. gift card, cryptocurrency, or money wire) to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
If you’ve lost money to a romantic scammer or think that they may have stolen your personal information, report it to the FTC (www.reportfraud.ftc.gov) and file a report with your local police department.