Online dating fraud statistics
In mid December the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—pled guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.While the case was remarkable for its magnitude, when it comes to so-called “romance scams,” it still represents just the tip of the iceberg.
Western Union agreed in January 2016 to a 6 million settlement with the FTC over allegations of looking the other way and allowing fraud and money laundering.
This makes it hard for the victim to do due diligence.
The scammer might say that an immediate family member has a medical emergency and needs money for treatment, or that he has been wrongly arrested and needs help with bail money and legal support.
More than 5,800 romance scam complaints were filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2014, the last year in which data are available, with a total associated losses topping million.
The most common target of online dating scams are women over 40, who are divorced, widowed, or disabled, according to the FBI.