The FBI has warned that victims of romance scams lost $475 million in 2019, BleepingComputer reports. In Idaho alone, nearly one hundred of these victims lost more than $1 million each. The FBI also stresses that the number of reported romance scams increased to 20,000 last year, up from around 19,000 in 2018.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working to raise awareness about online romance scams, also called confidence fraud, specifically among single adults over the age of 55 in Utah, Idaho, and Montana,” the Bureau said. “In this type of fraud, scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating websites, apps, or social media, with the ultimate goal of financially exploiting the victims. The consequences of these scams are often financially and emotionally devastating to victims; they rarely get their money back and may not have the ability to recover from the financial loss.”
The FBI offers the following advice to people who develop a romantic relationship with someone online:
- Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
- Go slow and ask questions.
- Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to go “offline.”
- Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests.
- Beware if the individual promises to meet in person, but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
- Never send money to anyone you don’t know personally.
Romance scams are particularly manipulative and damaging to victims and their loved ones. Any social engineering of an employee can represent a risk to an organization, too. The skills you need to avoid romance scams aren’t too different from those that help you resist any form of social engineering. New-school security awareness training can enable your employees to recognize the signs of a scam early on, so they can avoid being pulled into one of these schemes.
BleepingComputer has the story.