Bad relationships may hurt feelings but online dating scams can also take a toll on your wallet.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports online dating scams cost Americans nearly $143 million in 2018.
Fairfield Glade Police Chief Mike Williams said scams typically make offers to victims that are too good to be true.
“You’ve got to do your diligence, especially if you do any type of online dating or use any online dating sites,” Williams said. “You have to know that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Anyone who reaches out to you that lives thousands of miles away is probably not going to try to be in a relationship with you.”
Williams said online daters can report potential scams to the host site and advises against giving personal information to those you don’t know.
“The first thing you do if you’re online, you can report it to the social media site or the site that you’re using. That’s the best way to stop it,” Williams said. “Be weary of giving out your cell phone number, or any type of personal information such as where you live, your street address, or anything like that. You just have to think that everyone is trying to scam you nowadays.”
Williams said anyone could potentially fall victim to online or even phone scams. In some cases, getting back lost money can be a challenge.
“The biggest thing we face is how do we help the victim recover their money, and a lot of times, that’s just not even possible,” Williams said. “A lot of these scammers are overseas and it’s impossible to track them all. Recently, the former director of the CIA and the FBI was attempted to be scammed in Washington D.C. It’s really rampant and everyone could be a victim.”
The FTC’s report indicates over 21,000 dating-related scams were reported in 2018, up nearly 27 percent from the year before. That number has nearly tripled from 2015 when over 8,500 dating-related scams were reported to the FTC.