Two Hearts on Keyboard

Is Your Online Love Asking for Money? Be Careful, It Could be a Scam.
3/13/2019

Sweetheart scammers are con artists who prey on vulnerable people by pretending to fall in love with them in order to win their trust and steal their money. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victim’s money, credit union accounts, online or mobile banking logins, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, social security number or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.  
 
 
While sweetheart scams can happen face-to-face, today’s sweetheart scams often take place at online dating sites. Scammers frequently create fake identities on dating websites and social media. Thousands of people have been victimized by online romance scams and wind up not only embarrassed and heartbroken but with financial losses averaging more than $10,000 per person. Once the scammer has achieved their financial goal, they will drop the unsuspecting victim and disappear.
The relationship may not be what you think, especially if your sweetheart:
  • Wants to leave the dating site immediately and communicate through personal email or text messaging
  • Claims love in a heartbeat
  • Claims to be from the U.S., but is traveling or working overseas
  • Plans to visit, but is prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour
 
The first sign of a scam is an online love interest who asks for money. Once the victim becomes attached, the scammer looks for ways to dupe the person into sending money, which can happen in a few basic ways:
  1. The scammer may indirectly ask for money. For instance, some romance scammers express concern about their financial situation. Their plan is for the victim to offer to send the funds.
  2. The scammer asks for money directly. A scammer may beg for hundreds or thousands of dollars claiming a family member became suddenly ill, he or she was robbed, he or she needs funds for their business or investments, or the person is having difficulty obtaining travel documents after spending all his or her money on a plane ticket to visit the victim. A victim may even get a call from an accomplice who claims to be a lawyer or doctor to lend credibility to the tale.
  3. The scammer mails a check to you to take care of some business for them. This could include: purchasing gift cards, sending wire transfers, conducting account to account transfers (commonly done through Walmart or MoneyGram), or asking you to send cashier’s checks.
It is not only those with wealth that are victimized. While a victim without financial resources may seem undesirable, scammers will still attempt to use their deceptive tricks to milk them for all they’re worth.
If an online love interest asks you for money:
  • Stop all communication with the scammer and talk to someone you trust.
  • Never wire money, put money on a gift card or cash reload card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  • If you sent money to a scammer, contact the company you used to send the money and tell them it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed if possible.
  • Report your experience to the dating site, your local law enforcement, the Federal Trade Commission, and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
 
Unfortunately, online dating scams are all too common. If this happens to you, report it at ftc.gov/complaint — click on Scams and Rip-Offs, then select Romance Scams.
Please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts for additional information regarding consumer scams alerts.
 
VIDEO: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0004-online-dating-scams