Romance Scams: Love Gone Wrong in the Digital Age

So you’ve started chatting with someone online and it was going great, except now they’ve had a family emergency and need you to wire them money to help. Don’t let a sob-story get the best of you. If someone you’ve never met is asking you for money online, it’s more than likely a scam.

Online dating is a great way to connect with and find a potential partner, but what happens when fraudsters use these platforms to scam users? In 2018 alone, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 18,493 reports of romance scams. These scams are incredibly common because anyone can pretend to be anyone on the internet. The *FBI has some great information on just how these scams work. Romance scams are a form of social engineering, and they can happen to anyone on any dating site. From Tinder to OkCupid to, there is no platform that is totally safe from imposters. If you believe that you are experiencing a romance scam, we have a few tell-tale signs to look out for:

  • They ask for money, gift cards, or money to pay credit cards.
  • They profess strong feelings for you in an abnormal amount of time.
  • Their messages could be poorly written, inconsistent, and sometimes vague.
  • They offer various excuses for why they can’t show you more photos or pictures of themselves and delay meeting in person or talking with you on a video chat.
  • When you do agree to meet, they cancel or postpone.


Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you may be chatting with a cybercriminal. To be sure, you can run a google image search with their photos to see if they are impersonating someone else. If their photos are stolen from another profile, you can be sure that this is an imposter scam. For more ways to uncover a romance scam, visit our resource page or check out the *FTC’s helpful tips and videos. If you discover that your potential love interest is a fraud, don’t worry. We’ve got action steps to help you recover.

Once you’ve discovered the scam, the first step is to cut all communication with the fraudster. You should block them on any platform or dating site that they could potentially contact you through. Report their profile to the dating site that you found them on. If you’ve already sent the scammer money or banking info, be sure to take preventative action by reporting the fraud, freezing your accounts and monitoring your credit. Don’t wait until you notice unusual account activity to take action. If you’ve given someone your personal information, your finances require immediate security measures.