We’ve heard the phrase “blinded by love” before, but don’t be blinded to the point that you fall into debt. In 2021, consumers lost a record $547 million to romance scams, according to a  report from the Federal Trade Commission—and that’s just among those who report it. Older people are common targets for romance scams. Scammers are using social media dating apps to prey on lonely people by taking advantage of their compassion and empathy.  

What are romance scams?  

A romance scam is a confidence trick in which a criminal fakes a romantic interest in a person in order to develop an attachment for the purpose of requesting or demanding money. 

How do they work? What are the signs? 

Romance scams can be difficult to see and get out of because they involve deep-seated feelings of connection. Scammers’ approaches can be very subtle and ambiguous enough that their intentions are hard to identify. If you know the signs in advance (they are similar to those of other scams), you may find it easier to avoid the snare: 

  • They work quickly to establish a relationship and gain your trust. 
  • They want your bank account information or other financial information. 
  • They make demands for money. 

Don’t lose hope for finding a great partner! Keep in mind that a true partner wouldn’t be looking to dig you into a financial hole. Even though it may feel impolite, don’t be afraid to ghost or cut off all contact if you sense the person doesn’t mean well. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. To learn more about other scams, and how to avoid and report them, check out our course “Understanding and Avoiding Fraud and Scams.”