It's easy to feel lonely during the holiday season if you are single. Many people turn to online dating due to its convenience and wide range of users. However, dating apps and sites are also filled with scammers looking to steal your heart and your money.
Romance scammers start by building convincing fake profiles on dating sites and apps. Once they find a match and start chatting, they learn about their victim's life and build trust. It may take weeks, months, or years, but some scammers have gotten away with thousands of dollars by requesting money for various reasons such as travel expenses, sudden medical emergencies, or general financial hardships. Over just the last 3 years, victims in the US and Canada have reported losing almost $1 billion.
If your online sweetheart asks for money, it's a telltale sign that they could be a scammer. Don't wire them money to cover any emergency expenses they might have and watch out for other red flags, like declaring love very quickly. Scammers often claim to be from the US, but "travel or work abroad" and will make plans to visit, but cancel last minute due to an "emergency."
You can always report relationship scams to the dating site or app that the scammer approached you on, the FTC, and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. While online dating may help ease some of the loneliness during the holidays, exercise a little bit of caution so you don't end up both heartbroken and penniless.