Feb 14, 2023 - Economy

Romance scammers cash in

Data: FTC.gov; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FTC.gov; Chart: Axios Visuals

This Valentine's Day, guard your heart and your wallet.

Driving the news: The Federal Trade Commission reports that in 2022, 70,000 people reported losses from so-called "romance scammers," losing a whopping total of $1.3 billion, with a median reported loss of $4,400.

The FTC says 40% of romance scam victims say contact first began on social media and 19% began on dating websites or apps.

  • The scammers often tell elaborate lies tied to a fake identity. The most popular lie used in these scams is saying someone is "sick, hurt or in jail" and therefore they need money ASAP.

One popular and long-running romance-based crypto scam is getting more sophisticated, per Axios Codebook author Sam Sabin.

  • Known as "pig-butchering," the scam typically begins with someone either starting a conversation on a dating app or sending a text to a random phone number.
  • Once trust is established the scammer will start to encourage the victim to invest in a fake crypto app.

Spot a scammer: If they don't want to meet in real life and claim they live on an oil rig, it's probably not your soulmate. And no one looking for love will ask you to invest in their cryptocurrency app.

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