Online Dating Scams and How to Avoid Them

Looking to start a new relationship? For some, that may mean meeting a new love interest online. Word to the wise: sometimes it’s best to lead with your head and not your heart.

Millions of Americans use dating sites, social networking sites, and chat rooms to meet people. And many forge successful relationships. But scammers also use these sites to meet potential victims. They create fake profiles to build online relationships, and eventually convince people to send money in the name of love.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where I’m a Consumer Education Specialist, receives thousands of reports each year about romance scammers who create fake online relationships only to steal their victims’ money. An estimated $220 million has been lost to scammers, and reports to the FBI have tripled between 2012 and 2016, with the latest figures being 14,546 reports.

Unfortunately, an online love interest who asks for money is almost certainly a scam artist.

The FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation, lists common signs of online dating scams and what to do if someone you meet online asks you for money.

Below are some red flags that will help you identify a scammer looking for a target. They…:

*profess love quickly.

* claim to be from the U.S. but are overseas for business or military service.

*ask for money. Claim to need it for emergencies, hospital bills or travel.

*lure their victim off the dating site.

*plan to visit, but can’t because of an emergency.

How can you avoid becoming a victim?

*Slow down and talk to someone you trust. Don’t let a scammer rush you.

*Never wire money, put money on a gift or cash reload card or send money. You won’t get it back.

*Contact your bank right away if you think you’ve sent money to a scammer.

*Report your experience to the online dating site, the FTC ( and the FBI (




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