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Scam artists lurking on dating apps and social media made away with a record haul in 2020

February 21, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 46.1%. 2 min read.

Scammers lurk on dating apps and social media, striking up conversation with strangers until they build up trust to eventually ask for money. The prevalence of these types of scams has been steadily rising every year for the past four years

Scammers lurk on dating apps and social media, striking up conversation with strangers until they build up trust to eventually ask for money.

The pandemic has only made things easier, creating legitimate reasons for scammers to hide their real motives, claiming they cannot meet in person or need money for medical treatment.

The FTC estimated on average $2,500 was sent to romance scammers in 2020, more than ten times the median loss across all fraud types.

Given the rampant use of social media and rise of online dating services, the opportunity for scammers to prey on individuals is only growing, explained Emma Fletcher, an analyst at the FTC.

Scammers often invest months and even years into building trusting relationships with their victims.

Amy Nofizger, director of the AARP's Fraud Watch Network, told CNN she's seen victims' losses range from $7,800 to $900,000.

Nofziger said that victims of scammers are simply trying to find a genuine connection with someone and that they are, "smart, educated, wordly people; they just fell in love. "

The scammer asked for a gift card so he could watch movies for an upcoming international flight.

Once Floren realized the scammer's intentions, she immediately posted about the fraud on Nextdoor and to her Facebook account.

According to the FTC, gift cards and wire transfers are the most commonly used payment methods by online scammers, both of which can be difficult to track.

For now, Fletcher and Nofziger of the AARP both emphasized that consumer education is the most effective method in combating online romance scams.

Teaching people how to identify fake profiles by flagging what types of questions scammers usually ask, talking to someone you trust about the new digital love interest and trying a reverse-image search of the scammer's profile pictures to detect if they're associated with another name.

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