It’s difficult to find companionship as it is, but add in the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the chaos of 2020 in general and you have a recipe for loneliness.
It’s a shame, too. Even though dating apps and services are more plentiful than ever, not everyone is willing to date while social distancing is in effect. Tap or click here to see why you might have better luck this coming January.
But where loneliness and desperation exist, scammers and criminals are lying in wait to take advantage of hapless victims. According to the FBI, romance-related scams are on the rise — and many of the victims involved are suffering serious losses in terms of both money and heartbreak. Here’s what the Bureau says you should do if you’re looking for love in 2020.
FBI says you’re looking for love in all the wrong places
A new bulletin posted the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office is issuing a stark warning to online daters that their romantic interests may not be who they claim they are.
Romantic scamming (more accurately called confidence fraud) is on the rise, and the FBI is working to raise awareness among the primary victim demographic: Single adults over 55 in Utah, Idaho and Montana. These states appear to have the highest level of risk for potential fraud victims but the entire country is in danger.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, romance scams are significantly more devastating financially when compared to other kinds of online crime. In 2019 alone, the losses associated with romance scam complaints were greater than $475 million. And that’s not even factoring in the heartbreak and loss felt by victims when the deceit is revealed.
Caught in a bad romance? Here’s what you should do
In addition to warning potential victims, the FBI has a few pieces of advice to help romance-seekers stay alert and aware of the threats facing them. Here are a few ways you can avoid getting preyed upon by a romance scammer:
- If you become involved with someone online, take time to research their photos and profile information using online searches. If you see the content used elsewhere, you may be dealing with “catfishing.” Tap or click here to see how to spot fake profiles and catfishers on Facebook.
- Ask the person you’re talking to lots of questions to get to know them better. This is good advice for dating regardless of scam threats.
- Be skeptical if things move too quickly
- If someone you’re dating online tries to isolate you from friends and family, that’s a major red flag.
- If there is always an excuse as to why the person you’re talking to can never meet in real life, that’s a sign that they may not be who they claim they are.
- Unless you know the person closely, don’t send money. This is the biggest risk factor for most victims.
If you keep your eyes open and a sense of healthy skepticism, you’ll likely run into no problems as you date online. But get too complacent and you could end up with your savings gone and a broken heart. Tread cautiously, people!