During the covid-19 pandemic, many people embraced the use of dating apps. The increase in users on the sites has made the number of so-called “romantic scams” – when scammers pretend to have a love interest to deceive partners – grow.
According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States, 2020 saw a record increase in economic damage caused by the increase in cases of romantic scams. At least 32,800 scams were reported last year, almost 31% more than in 2019. Scam losses reached about US$304 million, an increase of almost 51% compared to the previous year.
The report found that financial loss from romantic scams increased across all age groups, with people age 70 and older suffering the greatest financial losses. People aged 40 to 69 years were the ones who reported the most losses from this type of fraud.
At least 32,800 scams were reported last year, almost 31% more than in 2019 (Source: Pexels)Source: Pexels
How to prevent
In general, scams happen as follows: the criminal creates an account in dating apps and approaches the victim in order to create a bond. After a while and with a closer relationship, the scammer makes up a sad story and says that he will need money to be able to resolve the situation. During the pandemic, maintaining social isolation was the most common excuse used by criminals for not meeting the victim in person. When they get the value, they disappear and leave the financial loss.
According to Camilo Gutiérrez Amaya, head of the Research Laboratory at ESET América Latina, an information security company, to protect yourself you need to take some extra precautions on the internet. “It’s important to always be vigilant and watch out for fake photos or quick promises of eternal love. In addition, keeping systems up to date and having a security solution on the devices to prevent the entry of malware,” he says.