FBI Salt Lake City
Press Office
February 13, 2024

This Valentine’s Day, Beware of Romance Scams

SALT LAKE CITY, UT—February is the month for romance and the Salt Lake City FBI is teaming up with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah to deliver a warning about confidence fraud, or 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.”

In a joint public service announcement, United States Attorney Trina A. Higgins and SAC Shohini Sinha say seniors and vulnerable adults are often targeted.

“Criminals create fake profiles, search dating sites, apps, and social media platforms for potential victims,” Higgins says in the PSA.

“They work quickly to build trust, only to manipulate victims into sending money or sharing personal information,” Sinha says.

According to the most recent FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report, 201 victims in Utah reported losses of more than $3.6 million in connection with confidence fraud/romance scams in 2022.

Working together as law enforcement partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are committed to investigating and prosecuting these scams.

On January 30, 2024, Nelly Idowu of Provo, Utah, was sentenced to six years in federal prison for her role in an online romance scheme.

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.