By Ariel Scotti / February 14, 2019

Americans Lost $143 Million In Internet Dating Scams Last Year

More than 21,000 instances were reported in 2018.

online dating scams
Online dating scams accounted for a loss of $143 million last year. (Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission’s Valentine’s Day card to America comes with a warning to not get cheated out of your money in online dating scams.

The agency received more than 21,000 reports about romance scams in 2018, with total reported losses of $143 million, NPR reported. That total figure is likely so large because the average person shelled out $2,600 to a fake sweetheart — more than seven times the average spent by those in other types of scams, according to the FTC. And those figures have been on the rise, according to the agency, from 8,500 in 2015, to 11,000 in 2016 and almost 17,000 in 2017, the FTC says.

Those over age 40 have been hit the hardest, but targets who are 70-years-old and up lost the most money individually — about $10,000 was the median amount, the FTC says.

Romantic frauds find their marks via social media sites like Facebook and Instagram and through online dating sites where they create fake profiles or use a real person’s identity, the FTC warned. They get away with never meeting in person by lying about military service or living abroad.

Requests for money typically follow shortly after a relationship is established for a made up expense like travel or medical procedures, NPR reported.

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