According to the report submitted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), romance scams are costing more money in comparison to any other consumer fraud.
The report mentions that this situation is becoming worse with time. The romance scammers are targeting people through fake dating sites on social media. These scammers build up the stories to influence their victims so that they get large amounts of money.
FTC has also reported the average number of romance scams and the figures are distressing. These scams have increased from 8,500 in 2015 to 21,000 in the year 2018 in Sentinel.
The losses due to romance scams have grown more than four times over the years. The figures of cost on these scams have escalated from $33 million (approx. ₹235.6 crores) in the year 2015 to $143 million (approx. ₹1021 crores) in the year 2019 in Sentinel.
FTC says, “Once these fraudsters have people by the heartstrings, they say they need money, often for a medical emergency or some other misfortune. They often claim to be in the military and stationed abroad, which explains why they can’t meet in person.”
FTC further explains, “Pretending to need help with travel costs for a long-awaited visit is another common ruse.”
FTC has reported that the majority of the victims in this scam have been asked to wire the money. Other groups of people were asked to send gift cards or reload cards such as Moneypak. These methods are known to be really quick, difficult to reverse and receipts remain anonymous.
These scams have proved to be costly for individual victims. The average loss incurred by the victims of these scams was over $2,600 (₹1.856 lakhs). This loss is reported to be seven times higher than the losses reported in other types of fraud.
It has been found that people between the age group of 40 to 69 lose money in the romance scam double the rate in comparison those in their 20s. The older people lose huge money on an average up to $10,000 (7.141 lakhs).
FTC has suggested doing the inverse search of images as well as of profile photos. This way they can check the authenticity of the profile. People can avoid getting victimized of this scam by not sending money to people whom they have not met yet.
FTC has requested the people to report about the scammers to help in stopping the ever-increasing problem.