Romance Scammers on Online Dating Apps
Are You a Romance Scammer?
Online dating apps are increasingly common in this day and age. Single people use online dating apps to meet and mingle, hoping to find a casual hookup or committed love. In fact, a Pew Research Center study reveals that 48% of 18-to-29-year-olds report using a dating site or app, while roughly 57% of online daters report having an overall positive experience with these platforms.
However, the FBI issued a warning about romance scams, which are becoming more and more common in the age of online dating. The Bureau reports that “Romance scams occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim.”
Romance scams have resulted in $201 million in losses for victims, a nearly 40% increase compared to 2018 and the most for any type of consumer fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). For people aged 70 and over, the median individual loss was $10,000 compared to $2,600 for other victims. As a result of these staggering numbers, the federal government is on high alert for romance scammers, meaning you could get in serious trouble if you’re suspected of or caught for romance scamming.
The FTC reports that scammers often lie to victims and tell them they live or work outside of the US, or are otherwise abroad. Examples include telling victims they work on an oil rig, work in construction, serve in the military, or work as a doctor with an internal organization. After establishing a close online relationship by coming across as genuine, affectionate, and caring, scammers attempt to form relationships with victims as soon as possible to appear committed and trustworthy.
The FTC observed some scammers proposing marriage or arranging to meet in person, but never following through. Once they gain the victim’s trust and establish a seemingly strong online connection, scammers will eventually ask for money to pay for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Plane tickets
- Travel expenses
- Travel documents
- Legal fees
Unfortunately, people can get caught up in a bad situation if a person suspects them of being a fraud. It is not illegal to ask for money through online platforms, but it is illegal to lie about where it’s going and what it’s being used for. So, if you formed a loving, romantic relationship with a special someone online, be careful about asking them for money.
As much as you may believe you are in a serious and trusting relationship with a person you met online, you never truly know the consequences of asking them for money until it’s too late. They may suspect you of lying about what you’re using the money for and report you to the FBI or other federal agency instead. Thus, we urge you to think twice before asking someone you met online for money, even if your intentions honest and genuine.
Are you under investigation or charged for fraud? Get advice from our criminal defense experts at Brickfield & Donahue today by contacting us at (201) 574-7919!