FBI San Francisco
San Francisco Media Office
February 12, 2024

FBI San Francisco Division Warns of Romance Scams Ahead of Valentine’s Day

The FBI San Francisco field office is working to raise awareness about online romance scams, also called confidence fraud. In this type of fraud, scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners on dating websites, apps, or social media by obtaining access to their financial or personal identifying information. Romance scams are prevalent, especially during this time of year.

In 2023, complaints filed with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) showed that victims within the FBI San Francisco division’s territory lost more than $27 million to romance scams. Romance scam victims were reported in every county within the FBI San Francisco division’s territory last year. The county with the highest victim reporting count was Santa Clara County, followed by Alameda County, and Contra Costa County. The county with the highest dollar amount loss was Alameda County, followed by Contra Costa County, and Santa Clara County. While Santa Clara County had 102 victim complaints filed with losses of over $6 million in 2023, Alameda County had only 68 complaints but incurred losses of over $9 million.

As in previous years, the age group with the highest victim reports within our region was 60 years and older, with a victim count of 138 and a dollar amount loss of over $14 million last year. While the total reported local victim count and dollar amount loss was lower in 2023 compared to 493 victims and losses of over $46 million in 2022, the actual numbers are likely much higher because many victims are too embarrassed to report they’ve been scammed.

The FBI San Francisco has seen a rising trend in which romance scammers are persuading individuals to send money to invest or trade cryptocurrency. After gaining the confidence and trust of the victim, the scammer then directs the victim to a fraudulent website or application for an investment opportunity. After the victim has invested an initial amount on the platform and sees an alleged profit, the scammers allow the victim to withdraw a small amount of money. Eventually, the scammer instructs the victim to invest a more considerable amount. When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the scammers create reasons why this cannot happen. The victim is informed additional taxes or fees need to be paid, or the minimum account balance has not been met to allow a withdrawal. Sometimes, a “customer service group” gets involved, which is also part of the scam. Ultimately, victims cannot withdraw any money, and the scammers most often stop communicating with the victim after they cease to send additional funds.



  • Loss: $27,278,098
  • Victims: 397

Victims over 60:

  • Loss: $14,722,438
  • Victims: 138

Alameda County:

  • Loss: $9,427,814
  • Victims: 68

Contra Costa County:

  • Loss: $6,776,481
  • Victims: 65

Del Norte County:

  • Loss: $0
  • Victims: 1

Humboldt County:

  • Loss: $248,398
  • Victims: 10

Lake County:

  • Loss: $1,800
  • Victims: 3

Marin County:

  • Loss: $285,105
  • Victims: 9

Mendocino County:

  • Loss: $5,000
  • Victims: 3

Monterey County:

  • Loss: $604,925
  • Victims: 17

Napa County:

  • Loss: $377,000
  • Victims: 7

San Benito County:

  • Loss: $1,500
  • Victims: 2

San Francisco County:

  • Loss: $1,611,997
  • Victims: 45

San Mateo County:

  • Loss: $1,420,341
  • Victims: 29

Santa Clara County:

  • Loss: $6,158,575
  • Victims: 102

Santa Cruz County:

  • Loss: $173,548
  • Victims: 18

Sonoma County:

  • Loss: $185,613
  • Victims: 18

Tips to Protect Yourself:

  • Never send money, trade, or invest per the advice of someone you have solely met online.
  • Do not disclose your current financial status to unknown and untrusted individuals.
  • Do not provide your banking information, Social Security Number, copies of your identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site you do not know is legitimate.
  • If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely that—unbelievable.
  • Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.

If you believe you are a victim of a romance scam, the FBI recommends reporting the activity to the IC3 at ic3.gov and immediately contacting your financial institution.

*For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact the FBI San Francisco Media Office at media.sf@fbi,gov