Signal Summer 2022 Newsletter

14 Dating apps and social media sites have become hot spots for criminals masquerading as Mr. or Mrs. Right to prey on lonely, unsuspecting people looking for love. But instead of finding romance, victims find themselves tricked out of money. Romance Scams Steal More ThanHearts Don’t get tricked by a fake love interest who only wants your money Carefully Crafted Deception Romance scams tend to follow a pattern. First, you receive an invitation to connect with someone while you’re looking at prospective partners on dating apps or scrolling through your social media feeds. You decide to accept the invitation and find yourself communicating frequently with this person. They suggest the conversation be moved off the dating app or social media site to another mode of communication (such as email or texting). A romantic relationship seems to quickly develop. The person gives plausible reasons why the two of you can’t meet in person— they’re working abroad, serving overseas in the military, or suffering from COVID-19. Eventually, requests for money begin. The “relationship” ends when the fake love interest disappears, or you realize you’ve been scammed. A Growing Problem The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the number of romance scams has skyrocketed in recent years, and the record high loss of $547 million in 2021 was more than six times the reported loss in 2017 and a nearly 80 percent increase compared to 2020. This increase is more than any other FTC fraud category. The median individual reported loss in 2021 was $2,400. Reports to the FTC about romance scams increased most strikingly for people ages 18 to 29, where the number of reports increased more than tenfold from 2017 to 2021. However, the reported median loss from romance scams increased with age. Those 70 and older reported individual median losses at $9,000 compared to $750 for the 18 to 29 age group. The real numbers are likely much higher since