FTC warns of increase in romance scams, especially targeting older adults

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An expanding fig of American seniors have been targeted for romance scams during the pandemic.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published an updated study connected the apical scams that have cost seniors aged 60 and up millions of dollars.

“Romance scams; prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams; and concern impersonator scams caused the highest aggregate reported losses for older adults,” the FTC wrote successful its 55-page Protecting Older Consumers 2021 — 2021 report, which was published and submitted to Congress connected Monday, Oct. 18.

Out of the 5 named scam types, reported romance scams were “the highest aggregate dollar losses” successful 2019 and 2020, according to the FTC. 

In 2019, American seniors mislaid astir $84 cardinal to online scammers who posed arsenic imaginable emotion interests on dating apps. That fig roseate to $139 cardinal successful 2020 – a 65.5 percent summation successful a azygous year.

“Reported losses to romance scams person accrued importantly successful caller years, and this inclination accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the FTC continued. “Among older adults, hardest deed were the 60-69 and 70-79 property groups, which reported $129 cardinal of the 2020 reported losses, making romance scams the class of highest reported losses for some groups.”

Prize, sweepstakes and lottery scams came successful arsenic the 2nd astir costly for seniors successful 2020 astatine $69 cardinal followed by concern imposter scams astatine $65 million. Government imposter scams “showed [a] humble diminution successful 2020,” according to the FTC.

Romance scammers reportedly accepted wealth done slope transfers and nonstop payments ($31 million) and cryptocurrency ($12 million) successful 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was often cited arsenic a crushed for needing money.

According to the FTC, seniors nether the property of 80 reported a median nonaccomplishment of $308 portion seniors who are 80 and older reported a median nonaccomplishment of $798.

Roughly $10.5 cardinal were mislaid to romance scammers who utilized the pandemic arsenic a means to petition wealth and a crushed to not conscionable successful person.

Of the 23,053 online fraud reports made by seniors successful 2020, astir 9.5 percent were romance scams.

“Romance scammers people consumers of each age, and our latest study makes wide that older adults are not immune from these imposters,” wrote Lois Greisman, the FTC’s subordinate manager for selling practices, successful an email to Fox News. “We recovered that adults 60 and older reported losing much wealth to romance scammers than immoderate different signifier of fraud successful 2020.”

“Fortunately, determination are wide steps consumers tin instrumentality to support themselves, with the astir important being this: don’t ever nonstop money, acquisition cards, oregon thing other of worth to idiosyncratic you’ve ne'er met successful person,” Greisman continued. “And speech with your friends, family, and assemblage members astir romance scams to help spread the word.”