Romance scams on the rise amid ongoing pandemic

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

Love hurts, and romance scams are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission found the number of these scams reported from 2016 to 2020 has tripled, costing people hundreds of millions of dollars.

How do you recognize one and protect yourself?

From stolen yachts and champion horses to money laundering criminal masterminds, Michelle Gomez specializes in locating hard-to-find items and people.

She said, 
”you have to get inside the mind of the criminal.”

Gomez is a skip tracer. That’s a part private investigator and part bounty hunter, and she loves taking on cases others can’t solve.

“There is so much fraud going on. Women are getting taken for their money and men are too,” She explained. “They make them fall in love with them immediately and by the time you know it, within the month, they are already sending $20, $30, $40, $50,000 to these unknown people.”

Romance scams are the second-most reported crime to the FBI. But Gomez says there are ways people can protect themselves. First, spot the warning signs.

She said the moment someone asks you for money, that’s a red flag. That’s the start of their game.

Be careful if the relationship is getting serious fast or if they break promises to see you in person,
” Gomez added. “The pandemic is making it easier for con artists to give excuses to cancel first dates.
Some may even send selfies to prove they are real, but a reverse image search can find out if the photos are associated with another name.

She warns, “If a woman or a man is eager to find love, they are blind,” as the old adage goes.

Omez recommends talking to a close friend or family member about your new love interest.

They may be able to spot inconsistencies you may miss and save yourself and your wallet from heartbreak.

If you do fall victim to one of these romance scams, Gomez says cut communications right away, but save those conversations and any transactions.

Report it to the FTC by clicking here or the FBI here.

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