Adults of all ages search for love among dating apps and websites. In fact, three in 10 US adults turn to the web when searching for love. But there’s a major downside, the cyberspace is full of con-artists looking to make money off the lonely hearts.

Phony suitors seek victims on regular dating sites, but have also moved on to social media, reaching out to people they spot on Facebook or Instagram. Romance scams reported to the FTC reached a record $304 million in losses in 2020 and they continue to increase with a median loss of $2,500 for all age groups and $9,475 for people over 70.

These romance scams can evolve into other forms of fraud. For example, international criminals use dating sites to recruit unwitting “money mules” to launder ill-gotten funds through their bank accounts. In September 2021, the FBI reported a rising trend of enticing targets to make fraudulent cryptocurrency investments.

While this information may make you want to crawl under a rock and never find love again, there are some tips to help keep you vigilant on your journey through the sea of eligible partners.

Stay Alert

It’s easy to feel a false sense of safety when you’re the one who made first contact. The truth is, scammers are patient little rats and flood dating websites with fake profiles, waiting for victims to come to them.

Be wary if your new Romeo sends you a picture that looks more like a model from a fashion magazine than an ordinary snapshot. Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up. If so, there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

Scammers can exploit details like your last name or where you work to manipulate you or to commit identity theft. Don’t share a lot of personal information on profiles or with someone you’ve never met in person. This goes for social media too!

Ask Questions

Ask your potential partner a lot of questions, and watch for inconsistencies that might reveal an impostor. Run away, FAST, if they don’t provide information or change the subject to avoid giving you answers.

Be cautious if the latest Juliet wants to leave the dating website and communicate with you through email or instant messaging too soon. Scammers often inundate prospective marks with texts, emails and phone calls to draw them in. If messages are flirtatious and overly complimentary paste the text into a search engine and see whether the same words show up on websites devoted to exposing romance scams. Chances are, you aren’t the first one.

Do Your Research

We live in the age of Google. You can find anything about anything on the internet. Do a search for the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories from scammers. Check their name and see what comes up. If things don’t match, you may be talking to a crook. We’re talking about protecting you and your money, there is no search too extreme!

In the event you do catch a swindler, cut off contact immediately and notify the site or dating app where you met the person. Don't send cash or gift cards to someone you've only talked to online or put money on a reloadable debit card for the person; it will be gone forever.

When it comes to your bank account, 4Front has it’s spidey senses on full alert. We monitor all activity and are not afraid to call attention to something fishy. Be honest about what’s going on and we can help you navigate this rough water.

Finding love online shouldn’t be scary and we hope these tips help you get one step closer to your happily ever after.