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Romance Scams: Recognition and Recovery

A romance scam involves a perpetrator building a fraudulent, often romantic relationship with an online victim. This leads to the perpetrator playing to the emotions of their victim in hopes of extorting money, gifts, or personal information. According to the non-profit Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams (SCARS), in 2016 an estimated 1 million individuals became new victims to romance scams and more than $35 billion was lost to scammers. Romance scams can be detected and avoided early in an encounter by taking precautions when using social media. Some early red flags include:

• Consistently poor grammar and/or spelling

• Their message is two or three paragraphs long - unusual for initial contact

• Their profile images appear to be magazine quality or inconsistent

How Scammers get Paid?

• Wire funds out of their account to the scammer

• Deposit a check from their account to the scammer

• Send a check to the scammer

• Send outgoing ACH credit to the scammer’s supposed financial institution

• Co-sign on a loan or even apply for a loan

• Apply for a new credit/debit card or obtain an additional card

• Apply for a gift card or reload cash on a card

• Transfer funds within the credit union to another account

• Withdraw funds to provide to the scammer

If you suspect you or a loved one have fallen prey to a romance scam, SCARS' partner websites can assist: you can report the scammer at AnyScam and seek counseling or education from Romance Scams Now.

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