A study found a record $304 million was lost to romance scams in 2020 and Virginia ranks No. 6 with residents losing $18,052,839.
The holidays can make people feel very alone, which makes it peak season for romance scammers looking to prey on the lonely. The threat is compounded this year because COVID-19 has fueled an unprecedented rise in scams with more people looking for love online. The $304 million lost in 2020 was up from $201 million in 2019.
In Virginia, 531 victims filed reports with the FTC and the average loss per victim was $33,997. The number of victims and money lost is likely much higher as most people are too embarrassed to come forward once they are scammed.
5 Signs You Are Being Catfished and How to Avoid Becoming a Victim:
1)Will Not Meet in Person or Video Chat: They keep finding excuses not to video chat or meet. They send pictures of themselves with your name written on a piece of paper to prove they are real, but these are photoshopped.
2)Asks to Move Away from the Dating App: They want to move the conversation off the dating app and onto an online messaging platform such as WhatsApp or Google Hangouts.
3)Poor Grammar but Claims to be Educated: They claim to be highly educated but their messages are littered with typos and grammatical errors.
4)Confesses Love Quickly: Their goal is shower you with love to gain your trust so they can steal your money. If the person moves too quickly and asks for the same in return, it is a red flag.
5)Asks for Financial Assistance: They claim to have an emergency and ask you to send money. They may also ask for your bank account information so they can deposit money into your account.
To avoid becoming a victim, never give money or personal information to anyone you have not met in person. Do a reverse search to verify if the person is who they say they are.
If you believe you have been contacted by a romance scammer report it to the FTC