Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
AARP AARP States Ohio Scams & Fraud

They Steal Your Heart, Then Your Money

Computer Dating

►Don't miss the AARP Ohio Town Hall, "The Red Flags of Romance Scams." The Facebook Live broadcast features an attorney from the Federal Trade Commission and a romance scam survivor.



All crimes that seek to steal money or sensitive information through deception are loathsome. But perhaps the most pernicious involves crimes of the heart. Online romance fraud is rampant and growing, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

These are some red flags to look for to help identify a potential scam:

  • Contacting you out of the blue. While playing an online game, perusing your social media feed, or looking at prospective partners on dating apps or sites, up pops an invitation to connect. An errant text message is common ploy.
  • You decide to accept the invitation and find yourself communicating with this new friend a lot, and they suggest you move to another mode of communication.
  • A romantic relationship develops quickly, and there are plausible reasons you don’t get to meet in person—they live far away, they can't get away from work, or perhaps an illness keeps you from getting together. They repeatedly promise to meet you, but always come up with an excuse to cancel.
  • Eventually, requests for money begin. Or, more recently, the love interest professes skill in investing in cryptocurrency and suggests you invest, too.

The “relationship” ends when the fake love interest disappears, or you realize it was a scam. It’s important to know that romance fraud can happen to people of all ages, and is not exclusive to young people. In fact, the FTC says nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam, and reported losses hit a staggering $1.3 billion. The average reported loss: $4,400 in 2022.

Romance and CryptoCurrency

The past two years have seen an explosion of cryptocurrency scams, which has led many people to ask the same question—why?

After all, cryptocurrency is something most people don’t understand, and those who follow it know it's volatile, completely unregulated and has no protection for investors.

So, why are people losing billions a year to crypto scams?

If we had to pick someone to blame (besides the criminals), it might be Cupid.

Romance scams have become one of the top drivers of cryptocurrency fraud, because once the criminal creates a deep connection with their victim, they can get that person to do things they wouldn’t normally do. In fact, the FTC reported that 34% of reported losses from romance scams in 2022 were in cryptocurrency.

If someone you only know online tells you they are making money investing in crypto and offers to teach you how, it’s a scam. It doesn’t matter how well you think you know this person, asking for money to invest in cryptocurrency is one of the surest signs of a modern-day romance scam.

Tips

  • Use caution when meeting new people online. It’s too easy for someone to be an imposter.
  • Research investment opportunities thoroughly, particularly if you've never met your online "friend" in person.
  • Keep personal information private, including banking information, Social Security number, Medicare number, and other sensitive information.
  • Talk to friends or family about a new love interest, and pay attention if they’re concerned.
  • Try a reverse image search of their profile picture. If the details don’t match up, it’s a scam.
  • Cut off contact immediately if you suspect a scam.
  • Notify the platform on which the initial contact took place.
  • Call local law enforcement if you were scammed.
  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline to talk with a trained and empathetic specialist who will help you understand what happened and guide you on steps to take.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this important information with friends and family.
Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

About AARP Ohio
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.