Attorney General William Tong is warning consumers about common scams on dating apps that have swindled Americans out of $1.3 billion in the last five years.
The Netflix documentary “The Tinder Swindler,” tells the story of a man who scammed women out of millions of dollars using the dating app Tinder. While the scope and scale of the scam depicted is exceptional, scams on dating apps are very common. These scammers will try to strike up an online relationship with you, earn your trust, and then steal money from you or your loved ones. These scams are not exclusive to dating apps. Scammers will also contact victims on social media apps like Instagram and Facebook.
“These heartless scammers prey upon people’s loneliness, isolation and their desire to be loved,” Attorney General Tong said in a release. “Be hypervigilant when a stranger contacts you online and asks you to share personal information and send money. It’s most likely a scam.”
The Office of the Attorney General has received several complaints in the last two years about scammers contacting Connecticut residents on dating apps and requesting money.
A Connecticut woman filed a complaint in 2020 alleging she lost $100,000 to a scammer she met on the dating app Bumble. She and the scammer communicated for several months before the scammer told the victim that he was stranded in Turkey and owed money for damaged equipment. The woman sent him $100,000 in wire transfers and BitCoin, before realizing it was a scam.
“I was a victim of an online dating scam and lost over $100,000. I’ve never thought of myself as a gullible person, but I was manipulated,” the woman said.
Earlier this year, a man filed a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General alleging he was asked to send a woman he had connected with on a dating app $6,300. The woman said she was traveling in Dubai and needed the money for an emergency. The man recognized that this was a scam and did not pay the money.
On Feb. 16, three Connecticut men were found guilty by a federal jury of defrauding elderly and vulnerable victims out of more than $5 million through lottery and romance scams.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, dating scams are one of the costliest scams every year. In 2021, victims lost $547 million to romance scams — up 80% since 2020. The total amount consumers lost to romance scams in the last five years has now reached $1.3 billion.
Recovering money lost in these kinds of scams can be very difficult. Here are some tips to avoid becoming the victim of a dating app scam:
- Never send money or gifts to a love interest you haven’t met in person. Scammers will contact you on dating apps and request money, sometimes in the form of cryptocurrency or gift cards.
- Be wary of someone you’ve never met professing their love quickly.
- Scammers will often claim to be overseas or in the military and have emergencies in which they need cash immediately. Don’t fall for their high-pressure tactics.
- If you suspect you might be scammed, stop communicating with the person immediately.
- Seek advice from someone you trust, like a friend or family member. Are they concerned about your new love interest?
- Take time to verify: If you’ve been contacted by someone you don’t know online, take time to verify the person’s identity and think through what is being asked of you to determine whether it makes sense. Search to see if other people have reported similar stories as scams.
- Reverse image search of the person’s dating profile picture to see if belongs to a different person or account. If you find the picture and it’s associated with another person or the details don’t add up, it’s likely a scam.
If you believe you have been the victim of a dating app scam, please report it to your local police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.
You can also report it to our office at 860-808-5420 or file a complaint with the office at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/. You can also report any scams to the Federal Trade Commissioner by calling the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or go online to file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint. If you are an elderly victim, please call the Elder Justice Hotline at 1-860-808-5555.