Graphic Depicting Online Romance Scam (Stock)

June 28, 2024

Breaking Up with Scammers

On this episode of Inside the FBI, learn how to recognize verification schemes that target people who use online dating platforms—and what to do if you fall victim to one of these scams.


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Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory: Dating apps and websites can lead you to love ... or to online scammers hoping to make a match with your money and personal data. 

On this episode of our podcast, we’ll teach you how to recognize verification schemes, and what to do if you fall victim to one of these scams. 

I’m Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory, and this is Inside the FBI. 

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Picture this: You’re on your favorite dating app and notice that you’ve matched with someone. Your match messages you back, and sparks seem to fly—fast.  

They want to start cultivating a relationship in the real world, so they shift your conversation off of the app and onto an alternate website or a platform that uses encryption.  

But they say they want to be safe and ensure that you are who you claim to be. 

So, they ask you to visit a third-party website where, they say, you can verify your identity for free. You click on the link they sent, and it looks legitimate, even featuring articles heralding the website’s authenticity. 

You take a look at the site, and think it looks safe enough, so you enter  your phone number, email address, and a credit card number to complete the process. 

But once you hit “submit,” you're sent to a different dating website—one that charges users monthly subscription fees,. You eventually spot monthly charges on your credit or debit card statement from a business you don’t recognize. 

Unfortunately, in the scenario we just walked through, you’ve entered into a relationship with a scammer. 

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In this type of scam, known as a verification scheme, criminals don’t just steal the monthly subscription fee you didn’t mean to sign up for; they also take the personal data you provided when signing up for the “free” verification service and use it as they please—whether that means stealing your identity or selling your details on the darkweb. 


If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of a verification scam, you should report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (or IC3). You can do this by visiting and then clicking on “File a Complaint” in the website menu at the top of the screen.  

Before you file your complaint, we recommend that you have a few crucial pieces of information handy. These include: 

  • Your mailing address, email address, and phone number 
  • A description of the incident 
  • And any additional information you have that might be relevant to your complaint. This could include information about the scammer’s dating app username or other contact information, information about the secondary website or app they had you visit, the “verification” website link they asked you to click on, and/or the information you submitted to that fraudulent website. 

Your report can help us bring the scammer to justice and protect other people from becoming victims. 


You can steer clear of scammers on dating platforms by heeding the following advice: 

First, don’t click on links, download files, or open attachments from anyone you haven’t met in real life. And, whenever possible, you should scan attachments for viruses. 

Likewise, don’t give personal information to people you’ve only met online.  

Next, if you’re chatting on a reputable dating website or app, keep the conversation there. Many platforms have built-in safety features, so scammers may try to take you elsewhere to make you more vulnerable. 
If a user’s profile looks fishy, don’t take the bait. Flag any profile that doesn’t look right to the website or app administrator and stop communicating with that user. 

And if an online match seems to be overenthusiastic, recognize common red flags. If they confess their love for you too soon, ask you for help, or try to lure you in with inappropriate photos or conversational topics, they might be trying to use social engineering to get you to part with your money. 

Next, keep a close eye on your monthly bank account and credit card statements so you can spot any charges that seem off—especially recurring ones to unfamiliar parties. If you spot any`irregularities, reach out to your financial institution as soon as possible. If your credit card was seemingly scammed, ask the company if you can potentially close that card. 

If you plan to subscribe to online services, dedicate a single credit card with a low balance or consider using a virtual credit card. 

Steer clear of websites that try to scare you into signing up for a service. Vet any information on the website to ensure that it’s authentic. 

Boost your scam-prevention smarts by regularly reading financial safety resources published on and other U.S. government agency websites. 


For more information about scam prevention, you can visit 

This has been another production of Inside the FBI. You can follow us on your favorite podcast player, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube. You can also subscribe to email alerts about new episodes at   
I’m Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory from the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs. Thanks for tuning in. 

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