Online romance scams are growing at a dizzying pace, raking in millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims across the United States.
Some of the scams drag on for months or years, and leave the victims crushed emotionally and financially. Just this week, federal officials announced that Americans lost $201 million to online romance scams last year — nearly a 40% jump since 2018.
Romance scammers start off with fake profiles using someone else’s identity. Their alleged location is never in your city — they claim to be deployed in the military, working at an oil rig overseas or a doctor embedded with international groups, the Federal Trade Commission says. That way, they can ask for money to pay for seemingly legitimate costs such as travel visas, plane tickets and hospital bills.