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Romance scams becoming more common as stigma around reporting remains

Posted at 11:46 AM, Jan 26, 2023

Romance scams aren’t just an issue around valentine's day; they're an issue year-round and they're widely underreported.

Dating apps are displaying messages warning people about these scams.

They’re joining the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators to try to get more people to report the scams.

“A lot of victims are either too embarrassed once they realize they've fallen victim to a crime like this, or they are in fear if they're a senior that maybe some of their freedom or you know the financial aspect of things that someone will take over their financial business,” said Mark Solomon with the International Association of Financial Crime Investigators.

Romance scams are the type of scam that people lose the most money to, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Romance scams hit a record high in 2021, with $547 million reportedly lost, which was up nearly 80 percent compared to 2020.

And there's still a stigma around these scams.

“It makes sense that they feel this way,” said Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow with the Kinsey Institute. “When you look at the reaction to romance scams that you see on social media or in the comments section on news websites, whenever romance scams are reported, if you check the comments, you're gonna see a lot of people who are blaming the victim. They say things like. ‘How could you be so stupid?’ ‘How could you fall for this?’ ‘How did you not see through this?’”

Lehmiller said having empathy for these victims, which could end up being any of us, is part of how we reduce the stigma. Cybercrime investigators recommend staying on the dating app as long as possible and not moving to another way to communicate.

Also, be skeptical of anyone who appears to be wealthy and wants to teach you to invest.

And if someone appears desperate for help and money is involved, that's another big red flag.