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Article 3 MIN READ

When Cupid Strikes

Heartache and financial loss can sometimes follow


We’ve all heard the stories of couples who find their true love on the internet and go on to live happy, long lives together. But not all stories have a fairy tale ending. Sometimes, when cupid strikes, it’s not with hearts and flowers but with deception and disguise. This is a romance scam.

Here’s how it works: You’re on a dating website or social media platform such as Facebook and Instagram when a potential suitor reaches out. They appear to be the whole package – attractive, funny, intelligent and compassionate. You start chatting, and things are going great. They are so engaging and attentive! Soon the potential mate asks you to start communicating via email, phone, or chat app (and off the original site where you “met”). Over the next few weeks or even months, you’re talking daily. You’ve really connected, and you trust each other.

Now it’s time to take the next step. Your love is blossoming, and you want to meet in person, but distance is a challenge. They are in another part of the country or overseas for business or military deployment. Determined to meet, you make plans, but inevitably, the encounters always seem to get derailed.

Suddenly, you get an urgent message from your suitor. There’s been an emergency or a business deal too good to pass up, and they ask you to send them money via gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, cryptocurrency or wire transfer. You do so. After all, you trust them, and they said they’d pay you back. Crisis adverted… until the next time… and the time after that. They keep asking for money until you realize you’re being scammed.

This all too common scenario is gut-wrenching. Not only are victims heartbroken after being deceived by someone they loved and trusted, but they now face potential financial ruin. Often, they are embarrassed to tell authorities. They ask themselves, “How could I fall for this?” Unfortunately, it’s easy. These are expert con artists – they know exactly what to say to lure in a victim, gain their trust and rip them off.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported victims of romance scams lost over $547 million in 2021. You may think that older adults tend to be the primary victims, but that’s not the case. There was a tenfold increase in victims 18 to 29 years old from 2017 to 2021. Essentially, anyone using a dating app or social media is a potential target!

If you think you are a victim of a romance scam, we’re here for you!  Please visit your local branch or give us a call at 800-339-6573. Please also report it to your local police department and to the FTC at It’s a good idea to notify the social networking site or app where you met the scammer, too.


How can you protect yourself from falling victim to a romance scam?  Follow these tips from the FBI:

  • Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.
  • Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.
  • Go slowly and ask lots of questions.
  • Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.
  • Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.
  • Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.
  • Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

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