What is a Romance Scam and why do people fall victim to these scams? 

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Americans lost over $1.3 billion dollars to romance scams in 2022, with the average loss per victim being right around $4,400.

A Romance Scam is a confidence trick (Con) where a criminal poses as a suiter claiming romantic intentions toward their victim in an attempt to gain the victim’s attention.  After gaining the victim’s confidence, the scammer then attempts to persuade the victim to send them money under false pretenses.

These scams work because the scammers are well trained at gaining the victim’s confidence.  They listen very intently to everything the victim is telling them and later use that information to convince the victim they are their perfect match.

Scammers usually follow the same formula for working these scams: Find a lonely or vulnerable target on social media or online dating app, gain the victim’s trust, then try to convince the victim to send them money, and most every time the scammer will instruct the victim on how to pay them.  Based on information collected from just over 8,000 romance scams reported in 2022, the most often used lines by the scammers to get money from their victims are:

  • I or someone close to me is sick, hurt, or in jail.
  • I can teach you how to invest.
  • I’m in the military far away.
  • I need help with an important delivery.
  • We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage.
  • I’ve come into some money or gold.
  • I’m on an oil rig or ship.
  • You can trust me with your private pictures.

Avoid falling victim to this type of scam by never sending money or gifts to someone you have only communicated with online. These types of scams have been around for a long time and the scammers have a lot of practice at perfecting these scams.  If you think you or someone you know may be involved in a potential Romance Scam:

  • Immediately stop communicating with the scammer.
  • Talk to someone you trust like a family member, a close personal friend, etc. about the situation.

Romance Scammers will come up with just about any excuse you can think to avoid meeting in person, they always eventually will ask for money, and will always instruct you how to send them the money.  Use these warning signs to help yourself or someone you know to avoid falling victim to a Romance Scam.

Paul Forni is our Information Security and Red Flag Officer. For more security tips, visit mycapecodbank.com/resources/your-security/.