Recent years have seen scammers become more creative, but the biggest scam in the US in terms of money lost were romance scams.
Technology makes romance scams much easier, as it makes all scams easier. According to CNN, over $143 million was stolen in romance scams in 2018, and that might be lower than the actual figure. The Federal Trade Commission has warned that scams preying on the vulnerable cost people more money than any other scam reported to them. 2018 saw over 21,000 people fall victim to these scams, losing the combined $143 million.
The sheer number of romance scams taking place is even more worrying when you see how quickly the scam has been picking up. The losses from romance scams in 2018 were almost quadruple what they were in 2015. “Reports indicate the scammers are active on dating apps, but also on social media sites that aren’t generally used for dating. For example, many people say the scam started with a Facebook message,” the FTC says.
The best way to avoid these scams is to never give any personal information or money to someone you’ve not seen in person. The accounts that bait people from dating or social media sites are fake and many are run by full-time scammers. One red flag to look out for is if someone you’re connected with but don’t actually know is trying to pull you off of whatever site you’re on and start using more private communications such as email. If the person on the other end is very fast to claim they’re in love, they’re either crazy or a scammer. Most of these scammers also play the part of a traveler or someone who works internationally, and of course if they’re in trouble and need money they’ll ask you instead of family, friends, or colleagues. In the end, the key is to not trust anyone you don’t know personally offline.