FTC: Americans Lost Over $547 Million to Romance Scams in 2021

Colin Thierry
Colin Thierry Writer
Colin Thierry Colin Thierry Writer

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Thursday that Americans reported record high losses of more than $547 million to romance scams in 2021. This is up 80% compared to 2020 and over 6 times compared to reported losses in 2017.

Financial losses originating from romance scams have increased significantly over recent years, with a total of $1.3 billion lost throughout the past five years.

This type of fraud (also known as confidence fraud) can lead to significant financial losses. Cybercriminals use fake online identities that help them gain potential victims’ trust on social media platforms or dating sites.

After luring their targets, the criminals take advantage of the illusion of a romantic relationship to manipulate the victims into sending money or financial info. This information can be used for other types of fraud schemes, like investment scams.

Last month, the FTC also announced that over 95,000 US consumers reported losses of around $770 million after getting scammed on social media platforms, with romance scams being the second most profitable fraud after online shopping scams.

“Reports about romance scams increased for every age group in 2021. The increase was most striking for people ages 18 to 29. For this age group, the number of reports increased more than tenfold from 2017 to 2021,” the FTC said in its statement on Thursday.

“But the reported median loss increased with age: people 70 and older reported the highest individual median losses at $9,000, compared to $750 for the 18 to 29 age group,” the FTC added.

In September, the FBI warned of a massive increase in online romance scams in 2021 after receiving more than 1,800 complaints linked to $113 million in losses.

Additionally, the agency revealed in 2019 that romance scam victims could also be recruited as money mules and persuaded to transfer stolen funds on the criminals’ behalf.

The US Justice Department’s website also lists hundreds of cases where criminals were found guilty of running large-scale romance scam fraud schemes targeting and stealing millions of dollars from American citizens.

About the Author

About the Author

Colin Thierry is a former cybersecurity researcher and journalist for SafetyDetectives who has written a wide variety of content for the web over the past 2 years. In his free time, he enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, watching sports, and playing video games.