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Online Dating/Romance Scams

Information about Online Dating/Romance Scams.

How It Works

You meet someone special on a dating website. Soon he wants to move off the dating site to email or phone calls. He tells you he loves you, but he lives far away — maybe for business, or because she’s in the military.

Then he asks for money. She might say it’s for a plane ticket to visit you. Or emergency surgery. Or something else urgent.

Scammers, both male and female, make fake dating profiles, sometimes using photos of other people — even stolen pictures of real military personnel. They build relationships — some even fake wedding plans — before they disappear with your money.

These scammers often will ask you to send the money by wire. Or, they may tell you to send money by using gift cards or prepaid cards (like Moneypak). They may ask you to mail them the card or tell you to give them the PIN number on the back of the card which allows them to withdraw the funds on the card. These payment methods give the scammer access to quick cash, while staying anonymous.

How to Prevent It

  1. Don’t send money. Never send money or gifts to someone you have never met in person.
  2. Never wire money, put money on a prepaid debit card, or send cash to an online love interest. You won’t get it back.
  3. Report suspicious online activity to the dating or social media site.

If you lost money you should act immediately:

  • Call the gift card or debit card company immediately. The contact number is on the back of the card. If reported immediately, you may be able to stop the transfer of funds, otherwise it may not be possible to stop the funds from being withdrawn. It is also important to alert the card company of fraud.
  • If you sent cash, report it immediately to the postal service or whatever company you used. If you act quickly you may be able to stop delivery by giving the tracking number to the delivery company.

Report online dating and romance scams to the Federal Trade Commission: Report Now

Learn More

Imposters promise romance to users of online dating sites to trick them into sending money.