FBI Denver Reports Online Romance Scams in Colorado and Wyoming Tops 200 Victims and $32 Million in Losses in Q1
Tips for Avoiding Becoming a Victim of Online Scammers This Valentine’s Day
DENVER, CO—By this Valentine’s Day, the FBI Denver Division is on par for seeing more than 200 romance scam victims (between October and the end of January), with over $32 million in reported losses. Roughly 60 percent of the victims are over 60 years old.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 Annual Report, romance scams are on the rise, from under 19,500 reported victims in 2019 to almost 24,000 victims in 2020. The annual losses attributed to these crimes have risen to more than $605 million. These account for one of the highest amounts of financial losses as compared to other crimes facilitated by the Internet.
Scammers often claim to live or work in other parts of the country or world in order to avoid meeting in person. These bad actors peruse dating websites, apps, chat rooms, and social media networks to gain access to personally-identifying information and financial assets. After gaining the trust of a potential victim, they will ask for money under false pretenses, usually for an unforeseen expense or medical or family emergency.
Anyone can be a victim of romance scams. The target victims are people looking for a relationship or companionship, usually through online platforms. The most common victims are women over the age of 40, the elderly, widowed, divorced, or disabled. Because of the vulnerabilities of these groups, a scammer begins a relationship under “innocent” pretenses and continues building more intimate contact until they are able to defraud victims
Tips to Avoid Romance Scams
- IC3 complainants most often report the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, England, and Canada as the location of the scammers.
- Check the State Department’s Travel Advisories before arranging travel to these locations (http://travel.state.gov/).
- Be mindful of these schemes and take caution before sending money to an individual you have only met online.
- Be careful what you post online.
- A scammer can use your posts against you.
- Any personally identifying information should not be posted publicly.
- Consider the following warning signs associated with an individual you met online:
- The individual presses you to leave the dating app and turn solely to messaging or email.
- The individual uses a photo that appears to be a glamor shot.
- The individual professes love quickly.
- The individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family.
- The individual claims to live or work far away.
- The individual makes plans to meet in person, but always cancels because of some emergency.
- The individual asks you for money.
If you suspect you’ve been scammed, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov, contact the FBI Denver field office at 303-629-7171, or contact your local law enforcement agency.