Romance Scams

Don't Become a Heartbreaking Statistic!

Each year, millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. Instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money or sharing personal information. Avoid becoming a heartbreaking statistic by learning the warning signs of a romance scam. 

How a Romance Scam Works

Romance scams typically involve individuals creating fake profiles on dating websites or social media to establish connections with unsuspecting victims. These scammers often build a relationship with their targets, gaining trust before exploiting emotions for financial gain.

The Warning Signs

1. They say they are far away

One of the first giveaways of a romance scammer is their background. These individuals often pose as someone who is stationed abroad, to create a reason why they cannot meet in person. Some common stories include:

  • They’re working on an oil rig.
  • They’re in the military or deployed overseas.
  • They’re a doctor in an international organization.
  • They’re working on a construction project outside the U.S.

2. Their profile seems too good to be true

Scammers often present an idealized version of themselves, claiming to be wealthy, successful, or holding high-profile positions. In contrast, a dating profile might be fake if the person doesn't list any details. Or maybe their interests and hobbies just about exactly match yours — the similarities might be too good to be true.

3. Reluctance to meet in person

Romance scammers want to keep their identities a secret. One way to keep you from questioning their identity is to promise to come visit. They may even have you pay for plane tickets or other travel costs. But they'll cancel at the last minute, providing an elaborate reason for why they can't see you after all. 

4. They claim they need money

A romance scammer may ask you to send money for things like:

  • travel expenses, like a plane ticket, or a visa/passport
  • medical expenses 
  • gambling or other debts 

These needs usually come with a sob story attached. 

An alternative to this, they may send YOU money. This could rope you into a "money mule" scheme, whereby the scammer asks to deposit money into your bank account, distribute the funds to other people, or deliver packages. In fact, these requests could be tied to money-laundering.

5. They ask for specific payment methods

Be cautious if your cyber sweetheart asks you to send them money via: 

  • wire transfer
  • preloaded gift cards
  • a newly-established bank account in your name

These are ways to get cash quickly and remain anonymous. Plus, the transactions are hard to reverse. Once you send a little bit of money, they might even ask for more. If you say “no,” their messages may get desperate and aggressive.

Protect Your Heart and Your Wallet

To protect yourself from falling victim to romance scams, the FTC recommends the following precautions:

  1. Research and Verify: Conduct thorough research on the person you’re interacting with. Use online searches to check their information and verify their identity.
  2. Protect Personal Information: Avoid sharing personal or financial information with someone you’ve only met online. Be cautious about the amount of personal details you disclose.
  3. Slow Down and Be Skeptical: Take your time getting to know someone, and don’t rush into a relationship. Be skeptical if the other person seems too perfect or their story appears too dramatic.
  4. Report Suspected Scams: If you suspect you’ve encountered a romance scam, report it to the FTC at This helps authorities track and take action against scammers. In the quest for love, vigilance is key. By staying informed and cautious, individuals can navigate the online dating world more safely, protecting both their hearts and wallets from the perils of romance scams.

Information provided by the Federal Trade Commission and Norton Security