Who’s the target?
This scam targets a variety of age groups.
What’s the scammer's goal?
To gain your trust as a romantic partner and leverage that relationship to obtain your money.
How do they do it?
Someone sends you a message on social media, an online forum, or a dating app with interest in starting a new relationship. This person will often seem like the perfect match, paying you compliments, and claiming to be quickly falling in love with you. Unfortunately, they can’t meet in person yet because they claim to be an international worker, an oil rigger, or a member of the military and are located outside of the country. Once they’ve gained your trust, an emergency expense will occur that they need your help paying. Often this is presented as a medical expense or family emergency, or maybe they need funds to visit you. However, the emergency is fabricated, and once you send them these funds in the form of gift cards, wires, or cryptocurrency transfers, the crisis passes and another one arises. If you’ve divulged your personal information to them, they may attempt to steal your identity or commit other scams. They can continue this pattern until you run out of money, or they suspect you are on to them, in which case they can disappear entirely.
- They are quick to advance the relationship and “fall in love”
- They live/work in another country, and cannot meet in person
- They ask you for money for a family emergency, medical expenses, or travel
- They instruct you to send funds through wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency transfers
How can we stay safe?
- On social media, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
- Run it past someone you trust. Are family and friends concerned about this person?
- As soon as you suspect someone, cut off contact immediately and do your own research
If you think you have been scammed:
- Contact all your financial institutions as soon as possible
- Contact FTC.gov
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline (if applicable)
- Contact the DMV (if applicable)