FBI Phoenix
Brooke Brennan and Kevin Smith
(623) 466-1999
February 12, 2024

It’s That Time of Year: Beware of Romance Scams

PHOENIX, AZ—Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office is taking this timely opportunity to warn Arizonans about confidence fraud – also known as “romance scams.”

Romance scams occur when someone believes he or she is in a relationship and is tricked into sending money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the fraudster. This includes any scheme in which the perpetrator preys on the victim’s “heartstrings”.

According to the most recent available statistics, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports 680 Arizona victims reported losses of more than $25.4 million in connection with confidence fraud/romance scams in 2022. Of that number, 379 victims suffering $17.7 million in losses were senior citizens.

Romance scams can happen to anyone at any time. The FBI cautions everyone who may be romantically involved with a person online to proceed carefully and stay alert to warning signs.

The FBI suggests these tips if someone develops an online relationship with another person:

  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the material has been used elsewhere.
  • Never provide your financial information or loan money to someone online. Never send money to anyone you don’t personally know.
  • Beware if the suitor seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or Facebook to go “offline.”
  • Beware if the person attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
  • Beware of promises to meet in person but that promise is always broken for one reason or another. If no face-to-face meeting has occurred after a few months, there is good reason for suspicion.
  • If a meeting is arranged, meet in a public place, and let others know of the plans.

If anyone suspects an online relationship is a scam, all contact should be stopped immediately. Victims who have already sent money are urged to report the incident to their financial institution and then inform local law enforcement. Victims are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov. For more information on romance scams, visit: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/romance-scams.