First Financial Northwest Bank

Romance Scams for Valentine's Day

February 13, 2020

Consumers lost $201 million to romance scams in 2019, an increase of nearly 40% from a year prior, according to new data from the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel Network. The FTC Federal Trade Commission received more than 25,000 reports about romance scams in 2019, nearly triple what the agency received in 2015.

The ABA Foundation and the FTC previously highlighted the common signs of romance scams in an infographic that banks are free to use to educate their customers. Such scams typically involve a fraudster creating a fake profile to lure in victims, establishing a romantic relationship and eventually extorting money from their victims, which frequently include older Americans.

In cases where an online romance scam is suspected, the ABA Foundation and the FTC recommend that consumers slow down and talk to someone they trust. 

Here’s the thing: Never send money or gifts to a love interest you haven’t actually met. It’s a romance scam.

  • Stop communicating with the person immediately.
  • Search online for the type of job the person says they have. See if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
  • Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture. If it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up, it’s a scam. 
  • Never wire money to a stranger, or pay anyone with gift cards. If someone asks you to wire money or pay with gift cards, report it to the FTC at


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