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Blog > Internet Scams > Avoid These Common Romance Scams
 March 06, 2024

Avoid These Common Romance Scams

Man looking at a woman's photo on his phone via a dating app

It’s a universal truth that most people want to find love. The problem is, online fraudsters use that desire against unsuspecting, vulnerable people on dating apps and dating sites. Not to burst Cupid’s bubble, but dating and romance scams are blooming like love in the spring. In a recent survey that we conducted, a whopping 70% of people said that they’d been a victim of an online dating scam, 63% were victims of multiple scams, and 66% said they were pressured to send money.

And so, in honor of ‘Slam the Scam Day’ on March 7, and National Consumer Protection Week, we’re highlighting some of the more common romance scams and the steps you can take to help avoid them.

How do internet dating fraudsters employ dating site scams?

Woman looking at a man's dating profile and photo on her phone.Thieves use several approaches to fool their marks into thinking they like them and that they legitimately want to date them. Scammers often target older people, those struggling in a relationship, and people who are particularly emotionally vulnerable. Love is blind, so victims can be more likely to lower their guard, which can lead to scammers accessing victims’ money and valuable personal info.

Be on the look out

Here are some of the more common types of romance scams, which are also often referred to as “catfishing”—luring someone into a relationship using a fake persona.

  • Military scams: The scammer claims that they’re deployed in a distant country. They might use military terms and slang to build trust before asking for money to cover their expenses.
  • Intimate photos/videos scams: The scammer may promise to send you private photos, but only after you send them money or personal info first. Or, the scammer might earn your trust enough to have you send them a photo or video then blackmail you with those same files.
  • ‘Sugar daddy’ scams: The online thief poses as someone who wants to pay money in exchange for a relationship. But before they send you money, they ask you to pay a fee or send personal information.
  • Fake websites: Scammers might create a fake dating site to mine your personal, private info as you use it. Or they may send you a link via direct message that leads to a page filled with malware that can steal your info or hack into your devices.
  • Inheritance scams: The fraudster convinces you to marry them so that you can inherit their money and assets. The catch is, they want you to pay them money first.

Is a romance scam a cybercrime?

Put simply, yes. Romance scams involve someone being fraudulently duped online. They’re considered serious cybercrimes and have led to jail time. In fact, the FBI has a task force that tries to hunt down scammer rings to bring them to justice.

Online dating scam statistics

In 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported being a victim of a romance scam, with total losses of approximately $1.3 billion. One widow was tricked into handing over $1 million.

Our recent survey turned up some other surprising statistics.

  • 60% of respondents reported losing more than $10,000 in a romance scam
  • 64% of respondents shared personal information on their dating profile that was later used against them
  • 69% of respondents were asked to prove their identity to someone on a dating app, and 65% of them shared their social security number
  • 63% of respondents now question whether the people they interact with on online dating apps are real people or generated by AI

In other words, if you’re single and ready to mingle online, be wary and careful about what you share.

How to avoid dating scams

Fortunately, there are a few ways to lessen your chances of becoming a victim.

  1. Avoid divulging private info when you post online
  2. If you meet someone on an app or site, try to verify that they are who they say they are by independently confirming their photo and profile
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask potential dating partners a lot of questions
  4. If someone you haven’t known for long asks you for inappropriate photos or financial info, just say no, especially if you haven’t met in person
  5. If someone makes plans to meet you then repeatedly cancels, be suspicious as they may be a scammer

The Cost of Looking for Love Dating Scams infographic

How IDShield can help

You can take another step to help protect yourself from romance scams by becoming an IDShield Member, which gives you world class 24/7 identity theft protection. We take your security seriously, provide tools to monitor your online presence, and alert you of unusual activity so you can take action when it’s detected. If you’ve already fallen victim to a scam and don’t know it, IDShield can alert you to suspicious activity on your accounts.

To stay safe from romance scams in the future, we offer many services to protect you, including:

  • Full-service identity restoration
  • Cybersecurity protection
  • Identity monitoring
  • Credit score tracking
  • Licensed Private Investigators to work on your case if identity theft does occur
  • Up to $3 million Identity Fraud Protection Plan for certain fraud expenses and legal costs as a result of a covered identity fraud event.

Get the identity theft protection you deserve so that you can safely look for love.

Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to identity theft services through membership-based participation. IDShield is a product of PPLSI. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. The information made available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide professional advice, render an opinion, or provide a recommendation as to a specific matter. The blog post is not a substitute for competent and professional advice. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be third-party paid contributors. All information by authors is accepted in good faith; however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.


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