USA TODAY - Nov 29 - In 2016, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center reported 14,546 people were victims of romance or confidence scams, up from 5,791 people in 2014. The financial loss keeps growing as well: victims lost ~$220M in 2016, more than double the $87M lost in 2014. The Federal Trade Commission also had a spike in the number of complaints about possible romance-related scams, up more two-fold to 11,149 from 2014 levels. And those numbers likely represent just a sliver of the swindles. Shame and embarrassment keep many people from coming forward. The scammers usually have a set profile as well. Most claim they lost their wife to some form of cancer, are raising their child alone, work keeps them at a distance - often abroad - and are looking for love.
Here are tips experts offer to stay safe online:
- Don't send money to someone you don't know. Ever.
- If you do send money, get a loan agreement.
- Meet the person in real life.
- Take the relationship slowly.
- Do a background check.
- Get a second opinion.