New data from the Federal Trade Commission show that more consumers than ever report falling prey to romance scammers. Consumers reported losing $547 million in 2021 alone.
A newly released data spotlight shows that in 2021 reported losses to romance scammers were up nearly 80 percent compared to 2020, and the total reported lost over the past five years has now reached $1.3 billion.
Romance scammers draw people in using pictures stolen from around the internet, building false personas that seem just real enough to be true, but always having a reason never to meet in person. Eventually, the supposed suitor will ask for money from the unwitting consumer. The impact can be major, with a median loss of $2,400 reported to the FTC.
While many people report the romance scam started on a dating site or app, reports of romance scams originating from contact through social media were also common.
Another trend in 2021 was an increase in reports of romance scammers luring consumers into phony cryptocurrency investment schemes. According to the spotlight, consumers who paid romance scammers with cryptocurrency reported losing $139 million in total in 2021, more than any other payment amount. The median loss for consumers who reported paying a romance scammer with cryptocurrency was nearly $10,000. Nevertheless, consumers most often report sending money to romance scammers by using gift cards, with about a quarter of 2021 reports citing gift cards as a payment method.
The FTC provides tips for consumers on how to spot romance scams and protect themselves at ftc.gov/romancescams.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.