Americans lost $201M to romance scams in 2019, FTC says

WASHINGTON -- Love is blind -- and scammers are taking advantage of that.

Americans lost more than $201 million to romance scams in 2019, up 40% from 2018, according to a new Federal Trade Commission report.

More than 25,000 consumers filed a report with the FTC about romance scams, a number that has nearly tripled since 2015.

Romance scammers prey on people looking for love on dating sites. They often start out sweet-talking their targets before asking for money for emergencies or travel. Their stories are often compelling, the FTC said.

"They might claim to be a doctor, a service member, or an oil rig worker living overseas. They want to make future plans with you. But then, something comes up and they ask you for money to help them out," said Cristina Miranda in an FTC blog post.

The FTC said these are the signs of a romance scammer:
  • They profess their love quickly. Often, they claim to be overseas for business or military service.
  • They ask for money and lure targets off dating sites.
  • They claim they need money for emergencies, including hospital bills and travel. They also say they can't visit because of an emergency.

  • The commission advises consumers to never send money or gifts to a love interest they've never met in person. Here's what you can do if you think you are the target of a romance scam:

  • Stop communicating with the person immediately.

  • Search online for the type of job the person says they have. See if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for "oil rig scammer" or "US Army scammer."
  • Do a reverse image search of the person's profile picture. If it's associated with another name or with details that don't match up, it's a scam.
  • Never wire money to a stranger or pay anyone with gift cards. If someone asks you to wire money or pay with gift cards, report it to the FTC at
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