FBI San Diego
Media Coordinator
(858) 320-1800 | SDPublicAffairs@fbi.gov
February 14, 2024

FBI San Diego Warns of Romance Scams

SAN DIEGO—Scammers are targeting victims using online dating sites. A whirlwind online romance can turn into fraud that causes victims to lose large amounts of money. Romance scams, a type of confidence fraud, begin when an individual believes they are in a romantic relationship and is tricked into sending money, personal information, financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator. They may also be deceived into laundering money or other valuable items to assist the perpetrator.

In a romance scam, the scammers target and take advantage of people looking for companionship or romantic partners and con them out of their money. The criminals who carry out romance scams typically target victims via social media messaging and emails with the intention of establishing a relationship and building trust as quickly as possible.

Confidence fraud/romance scams have resulted in one of the highest amounts of financial losses when compared to other Internet-facilitated crimes. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 19,000 complaints about confidence fraud in 2022, with reported losses of nearly $740 million.

FBI San Diego is monitoring a trend where romance scams turn into crypto investment fraud schemes. The scam starts similarly as an online relationship, but instead of asking for cash, the scammer convinces the victim to invest in cryptocurrency. To demonstrate the returns on investment, victims are directed to websites that appear authentic but are instead controlled by the scammer. Once the victim makes a purchase, they are unable to cash out their investments and the scammer disappears.

If you develop a relationship with someone you meet online, FBI San Diego suggests the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of a romance scam:

  • If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Trust your instincts.
  • If you suspect an online relationship is a scam, stop all contact immediately.
  • Do not give any personal information or money to anyone you have only communicated with by telephone or online.
  • Be careful what you post online. Scammers can use details shared on social media platforms and dating sites to legitimize their story.
  • If you are planning to meet someone in person you have met online, proceed with caution, especially if you plan to travel to a foreign country. Review the State Department’s travel advisories before arranging travel. (travel.state.gov)

Anyone who believes they’ve been a victim of fraud or knows someone who may be a victim should file a report on ic3.gov or call the FBI San Diego Field Office at (858) 320-1800. For more information on romance scams, visit www.fbi.gov/romancescams.