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Romance Scams

Person texting on their phone, with a red chat window open, outlining a heart in the window.
January 31, 2024 | Article | 5 min | Personal Insights

Questioning the authenticity of your new online relationship? Are the stars aligning or is there something more to the story? If you have doubts about your newfound romance, it could be a warning sign of a potential romance scam.

Every year, countless Americans become targets of romance scams, where skilled social engineers use various tactics to deceive their victims. The consequences can be devastating. These scams not only cause severe financial and emotional harm but also emphasize the importance of recognizing and understanding the strategies used by these scammers.

Romance scams have had a significant impact on victims in the United States, resulting in reported losses of $1.3 billion in 20221 alone. The effects of these scams reach far beyond the individual, affecting the entire community. As we await the 2023 reports, it’s clear that these scams continue to evolve, indicating potential record-breaking losses yet again.

What is a Romance Scam?

Romance scams are a deceptive scheme where criminals assume false online personas to exploit the affection and trust of their victims. By creating an illusion of a romantic or close connection, these scammers manipulate and deceive individuals, with the goal of stealing from their victims.

Be cautious! Romance scammers have mastered the art of deception, appearing sincere, compassionate and convincing. If someone you meet online asks for your bank account information to deposit money, they may be trying to use your account to carry out other theft and fraud schemes2. And, beware of those who insist you invest in cryptocurrency or risky ventures as it’s likely a scam.

Key Points & Red Flags

Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for:

  • Someone who asks to move conversations to text or encrypted messaging apps, such as Snap Chat, outside the original site.
  • Someone who claims to be from the United States but is currently overseas or serving in the military.
  • Someone who provides vague or improbable responses to personal questions.
  • Someone who professes their love too quickly. Remember, love takes time to develop naturally.

Want to discover if the person you’re talking to is legitimate?

  • Talk to your loved ones about a new relationship and listen to their concerns.
  • Do a reverse image search of profile pictures by saving a profile photo to your device, click the camera icon in a search engine, and upload the saved photo. You may be able to see if the picture has been used elsewhere.
  • Keep an eye out for videos with suspicious facial expressions, as scammers often use heavy video filters and artificial intelligence technology to deceive.

Your team at Minnesota Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank is here to help protect you from these types of fraud and schemes. To learn more about these and other scams, visit our fraud protection resource page on our website by using the button below.

Explore Fraud Protection Resources

1Source: consumer.ftc.gov

2Source: FBI.gov