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The Romance Scam is one of the most utilized methods of targeting victims for financial gain. Unfortunately, the targets of these scams are once again the elderly, specifically those who have been widowed. Although there are different variations of this scam, here is a very common scenario.

After a decade of being a widow, Jonathan, a retired banker, finally decides to join a dating app. In a few short weeks, he meets Lisa, and sparks fly immediately. Jonathan lives in New York but she lives in San Diego, taking care of her two grandkids while her daughter is deployed. Jonathan offers to fly her to New York, even offering to pay for her plane ticket as well as her grandkids. Lisa refuses, saying she’s not allowed to take the kids to another state without her daughter’s permission. When Jonathan offers to visit, she once again uses her grandkids as an excuse. Jonathan and Lisa keep communicating via messages and phone calls but never on video calls. One day, Lisa calls Jonathan crying, stating that the kids were rushed into the hospital and she needs help to pay for the hospital bills. Jonathan sends $1,000 to help out. Over the next couple of weeks, Lisa keeps on asking for financial help and Jonathan keeps on wiring her money. Finally, Lisa told Jonathan that they’re about to lose their house because of the medical bills and asks if she can borrow $200,000 from him. Jonathan, in order to help Lisa, takes out his savings and sends her the money. After he sends her the money, he never hears from her again, leaving Jonathan with an empty savings account and a broken heart. Yet another victim of the Romance Scam.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Reported losses to romance scams have increased significantly in recent years, and this trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among older adults, hardest hit were the 60-69 and 70-79 age groups, which reported $129 million of the 2020 reported losses, making romance scams the category of highest reported losses for both groups.”

Even if you think yourself an unlikely victim of a romance scam, it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case you find yourself in the same situation. The best way to avoid this scam is to identify it early on. Be on the lookout for the following red flags:

  • They don’t want to meet in person and avoid any opportunity to do so.
  • They refuse to be on any form of video calls.
  • They start asking for your personal information and start professing their love for you within a few days of interacting with you.
  • There are inconsistencies in their dating profile.
  • They start asking for money or financial assistance within a short amount of time.

Now that you’ve identified some red flags, here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Be skeptical: A little skepticism goes a long way, even in matters of the heart. If something doesn’t add up or if the person on the other side of the dating app refuses to meet or even video calls, then disengage. As with anything, follow your instincts.
  • Research: If a dating profile looks wrong, or it’s inconsistent with what they’re telling you, then it’s time to do some digging. Look at their social media accounts. Look up other profiles of them on the internet. If you want to really get to the bottom of things, run a background check. Doing your due diligence will save you in the long run.
  • Consult with a trusted friend or family member: It is always a great idea to have that one person you trust to be your sounding board or to offer you some advice. Someone who truly cares about you will always have your best interest at heart.

  • Do not send money to someone you’ve never met: As a general rule, do not send money to someone you’ve never met, no matter the situation. Don’t let anyone pressure you into sending gifts or funds.

The best way to avoid these scams and to protect yourself and your loved ones is to stay informed. Read our SmartLab blogs to stay up-to-date! You can also visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website and sign up for their Consumer Alerts to receive the most current information.

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*Logix Federal Credit Union is not affiliated with any of the external sources referenced in this article, and is a separate entity.

Please contact Logix at (800) 328-5328 or visit www.lfcu.com if you have any questions about this topic or would like to consider opening an account. 

Meet the blogger

Sherlogix Holmes

Sherlogix Holmes

All things fraud news and fraud prevention tips presented by Logix Fraud Risk Management. We know the importance of staying apprised of fraud trends and want to share our knowledge so you, too, can combat fraud and spread the word to family and friends.