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The Most Common Romance Scams and How to Protect Yourself

October 30, 2023 • 2 mins

Imagine being swept off your feet by someone who claims you’re the love of their life. They compliment you, flirt with you, make romantic gestures, and gain your trust. You’re in love. Then one day, you get a message. Your online sweetheart needs “a little financial help” to deal with a crisis. Or maybe they share an amazing investment opportunity. Of course, you send the money; after all, this person is your love. And then, suddenly, the person — and your money — are gone.

Romance scams like this are one of the most common types of scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), whose data shows that nearly 70,000 consumers lost $1.3 billion to romance scams in 20221. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to know the warning signs of romance scams and how to protect yourself.

How to spot romance scams

According to FTC data, these are the top lies told by romance scammers1.

  1. “I am (or someone close to me) is sick, hurt or in jail.”
  2. “I can teach you how to invest.”
  3. “I’m in the military far away.”
  4. “I need help with an important delivery.”
  5. “We’ve never met, but let’s talk about marriage.”
  6. “I’ve come into some money or gold.”
  7. “I’m on an oil rig or ship.”
  8. “You can trust me with your private pictures.”

Nearly 70,000 consumers lost $1.3 billion to romance scams in 2022.”

How to avoid romance scams

Romance scams typically start on social media but quickly move the conversation to other messaging apps. If you think you’ve been targeted:

  1. End communication with them immediately.
  2. Research their identity. Do a reverse image search: is the photo real or is it fake, like a stock image or a picture taken from someone else’s account? Save anything you find so you can share it with authorities.
  3. Never send cryptocurrency, wire money, give gift cards or share financially sensitive information with this person (or anyone you do not know and have not met in person).

According to the FTC report, consumers lost more money by sending cryptocurrency than any other method.

Help for romance scam victims

If you or someone you know is a victim of fraud related to a romance scam:

  1. Contact your financial institution immediately.
  2. Contact local authorities – look up the non-emergency number for your local police department.
  3. Report the crime at so the government can investigate.

1 Federal Trade Commission, “New FTC Data Reveals Top Lies Told by Romance Scammers”


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