Thursday, February 18, 2021
From the Wall Street Journal:
Love is a mystery. And in the age of Covid-19, it’s increasingly a fraud.
Romance scams—in which fraudsters pretend to be a love interest to bilk unassuming partners—have surged during the pandemic, compliance officers and regulators say. The scenario is putting some companies on high alert for suspicious financial transactions.
About 32,800 romance scams were reported last year, up nearly 31% from 2019, according to Federal Trade Commission data released last week. Consumers reported losing a record $304 million to the scams, an almost 51% increase, the FTC said.
Romance scammers often build fake online personas to develop relationships with victims through online dating apps or social media platforms. They keep their distance, though, making excuses about why they can’t meet in person. Sometimes it is a phony military deployment, other times a made-up assignment on an offshore oil rig, said Monica Vaca, an associate director at the FTC. As a virtual relationship strengthens, scammers make requests for money, often disappearing once the cash is in hand.
Read more here.