Romance scams have grown exponentially over the last few years, and they show no signs of slowing down. It's amazing to look at the amount of money that's been scammed from people who are just looking for love or companionship.

Unlike many scams, this one plays on the loneliness of older people (for the most part, but younger folks are getting nailed, too), and makes full use of the saying "love is blind."

love trap and online dating fraud concept
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When You See That Someone From The Rockford Area Has Been Taken For $40,000, You Realize That This Doesn't Just Happen To Other People

Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) told us that this local woman in her 50s was lonely and looking for a relationship by getting involved in online dating. As you might imagine, this was not the sort of relationship she had in mind.

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But, it completely fits the pattern of a romance scam. As I mentioned, younger people are getting scammed, but the target demographic for romance scams is people in the 55-65-plus age group.

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The Federal Trade Commission Says That Americans Have Lost Over $300 Million To Romance Scams

Here in Illinois, romance scams have taken big piles of money, too. Patch.com reports that a new study by the Internet Complaint Center shows that in Illinois, victims of these scams lost more than $14 million in 2020 when 688 victims were taken advantage of by scammers.

However, experts in this particular type of scam say those numbers are probably far less than what was actually taken because victims of romance scams tend to be embarrassed or ashamed by what has happened, and they don't want to report having been conned out of their money for a variety of reasons.

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Close-up Of Businesswoman Paying With Credit Card On Mobile Phone
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Here Are A Few Red Flags To Watch Out For

Well, I guess the number one thing you could do to avoid a romance scam is avoid romance, but I don't think that will fly. If you're going to be out there in the online dating world, watch out for these things (patch.com):

  • After initial contact on a legitimate dating site, the person attempts to communicate by email or messaging services.
  • The person claims to be from the United States but lives or is traveling abroad.
  • The person claims the relationship is "destiny" or "fate."
  • The person reports a personal crisis and exerts pressure for financial help.
  • The person disappears suddenly, then reappears under a different name.
  • The person asks for goods or money before an in-person meeting.

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