Romance scams

Online dating sites often rife with swindlers

It seems innocent enough. Two people meet on an online dating site — one hoping to find companionship but unaware of the motivations of the other. The relationship progresses through extended emails, texts and phone chats. Plans are made to meet over coffee. In the meantime, the one hoping to find love is contacted by the other who needs $100 to cover the cost of an emergency room visit and the person longing for love obliges and wires the money. 

The $100 soon turns into $1,000 needed for car repairs, and ultimately, for $30,000, which is to be treated as a loan. The loan is never repaid. After dozens of attempts to contact their online lover, they realize the person has disappeared. 

Romance scams are proliferating on the internet, especially among susceptible seniors desperate to find companionship. Scammers use their charm to get close through virtual communications, and their victims, thinking it could be the real thing, don’t want to disappoint them. 

While legitimate online dating sites are visited by well-meaning adults looking for relationships, there are plenty of red flags to watch for: 

  • You search online and find that the person doesn’t exist.
  • The person wants to start communicating offline right away.
  • The person proclaims deep feelings for you after a few visits.
  • The person claims to be a U.S. citizen working overseas.
  • The person agrees to meet in person but always offers excuses why they can’t.
  • The person asks for money.

The single most important rule anyone should follow is to never send money to a person you have never met. 

If you spot any of these red flags, stop all contact immediately and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

About This Author


Ross Bentzler

Ross Bentzler is Executive VP and Information Security Officer for Alpine Bank. Ross has worked in the information technology field for two decades, focusing on information security for 13 years.

More about Ross Bentzler

Allpoint It’s your money after all. Find a surcharge-free ATM