Americans lost more than $201 million to romance scams in 2019, up 40% from 2018, according to a new Federal Trade Commission report.
More than 25,000 consumers filed a report with the FTC about romance scams, a number that has nearly tripled since 2015.
Romance scammers prey on people looking for love on dating sites. They often start out sweet-talking their targets before asking for money for emergencies or travel. Their stories are often compelling, the FTC said.
"They might claim to be a doctor, a service member, or an oil rig worker living overseas. They want to make future plans with you. But then, something comes up and they ask you for money to help them out," said Cristina Miranda in an FTC blog post.
The FTC said these are the signs of a romance scammer:
The commission advises consumers to never send money or gifts to a love interest they've never met in person. Here's what you can do if you think you are the target of a romance scam: