FBI Philadelphia
Public Affairs Specialist Sofia Kettler
February 13, 2024

FBI Philadelphia Warns of Romance Scams Ahead of Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day approaches, FBI Philadelphia is reminding the public to be cautious of potential romance and confidence fraud scams as criminals look to con those looking for companionship or romantic partners out of their money.

In 2022, over 19,000 victims across the United States reported losing more than $700 million to romance scams. These numbers only reflect incidents reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Often these scams go unreported, and the actual numbers of victims and losses may be higher.

In a confidence fraud or romance scam, an individual believing they are in a trusting relationship, whether family, friendly, or romantic, is tricked into sending money or personal information to the scammer.

These scams begin when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and steal from the victim.

The criminals who carry out these scams are experts at what they do. They will seem genuine, caring, and believable. They’ll research their intended victims’ social media accounts to help develop a quick connection, so be careful what information you share online. The scammers’ intention is to establish a relationship as quickly as possible, endear themselves to their victims, and gain their trust.

“As individuals seek companionship or love through the use of online dating, the FBI wants you to know that criminals and scammers are on these platforms seeking to exploit those during their most vulnerable moments,” said FBI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs. “Whether you are looking for love or friendship online, you should always be on the lookout for potential fraudsters.”

If you develop a romantic relationship with someone you meet online:

  • Think twice before you share personal information online. Scammers can use details shared on dating sites and social media platforms to better target victims.
  • If you try online dating, only use dating sites with well-known reputations. Search people’s photos and profiles online to see if anyone has used the names, images, or information elsewhere.
  • Take the relationship slow and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the person quickly asks you to leave a dating app or social media platform to go “offline” — or tries to isolate you from friends and family.
  • It’s a major red flag if the individual promises to meet in person, then always finds an excuse to postpone it.
  • Never send money, cryptocurrency, or gift cards to anyone you’ve only communicated with online or by phone.

If you are the victim of a romance scam, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).

For additional resources visit:

* The 2023 numbers will be available on ic3.gov once the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s annual report is finalized.