HomeUSAHow to spot and avoid romance scams

How to spot and avoid romance scams

“My goal was to get money,” said Adekunle Adedeji, a former romance scammer from Nigeria who goes by the name Chris.

While Adedeji, 23, did not pose as a “Nigerian prince,” he did tap another long running internet fraud: the romance scam.

Using someone else’s photos found on Instagram and pretending to be an American employed by the U.S. military, Adedeji lured women on a dating site and convinced them to send him money. “I stole $20,000 from one woman,” he said.

More from Personal Finance:
When it comes to love, this much debt is a deal breaker
How these couples overcame financial infidelity
Nev Schulman from MTV’s ‘Catfish’ explains how to stay safe

His ploy eventually unraveled when she discovered his photos were fake, he said. But his guilty conscience also played a role. Adedeji now works with online dating investigation site SocialCatfish.com to educate others on such scams.

Why romance scams are on the rise

Despite an increased awareness from TV series like MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show” and Netflix’s “The Tinder Swindler,reports of romance scams hit a record high in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Losses totaled $547 million for the year, up nearly 80% from 2020, the FTC said.

“It really spiked with the pandemic because people were stuck at home and had to go online to date,” said David McClellan, president of SocialCatfish.

Since 2017, victims have reported $1.3 billion in losses — more than any other kind of fraud that the FTC tracks.

In a common version of the romance scam, people agree to transfer money as a favor to their supposed sweetheart who is in a sudden financial bind, the report found. A new twist often involves sharing bogus investment advice, especially involving cryptocurrency, which is difficult to track.

“Yes, there are red flags, but the most successful scammers are the best at manipulating,” McClellan said. “These people are groomed.”

How to spot a romance scam

Use ‘He’s a 10 but’ to review relationship red flags 

“It’s important to make sure your partner’s financial habits and values align with yours,” Eweka said. “If they don’t follow a budget or take advantage of a retirement plan offered by their employer, you can tell that that person is not making good financial decisions.”

As you are considering if this is someone you want to be in a relationship with, ask questions such as, “What are your plans for the future? And how do you plan on funding that?”

“How are you going to find your true 10 if you don’t know?” she added. “You want to have those tough conversations now to spare yourself from heartache later.”

If you do decide to take the next step, Eweka suggests sharing credit reports and meeting with a financial advisor to put together a plan for the future.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

New Updates