FBI warns of romance scams
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Looking for love? This Valentine’s Day, FBI Salt Lake City is raising awareness about romance scams, or confidence fraud, so you can protect your heart and your wallet.
A romance scam is when a perpetrator deceives a victim into believing the two have a trusting relationship, whether family, friendly, or romantic. The victim is then persuaded to send money, personal or financial information, or items of value, or launder money on behalf of the perpetrator.
Romance scams can happen to anyone at any time and have resulted in one of the highest amounts of financial losses when compared to other Internet-facilitated crimes
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), about 24,000 victims lost approximately $1 billion to romance scams in 2021.
In 2020, nearly 300 Utahns reported losing more than $6 million to romance scams. That same year in Montana, 68 victims reported losses of $936,068, and in Idaho, 130 victims reported more than $2 million in losses.
The FBI suggests the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
- Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately. If you have already sent money, immediately report any transfer of funds to your financial institution; file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov; and contact your local FBI office or other law enforcement agency.
For more information on romance scams, visit www.fbi.gov/romancescams.